Thursday, November 18, 2010


A friend recently asked me about the "problems" with grandparents when you are focused on one (not very common) way of raising your child. I don't have any problems with the grandparents though, because like my child I decided to "let them be".

Obviously I thought about it before. And I haven't been as easy going about this from the start. We have also been so excited about our "method" (it just sounds so technical) that we dropped opinions and attitudes wherever we went. When this was my parents in law's house we had a discussion about the rocking, bouncing and carrying of babies. My mother in law told us proudly how - when Jan was little - his father constructed a system of strings in the bedroom so whenever little Jan started to cry they just had to pull the strings attached to their bed and little Jan went back to sleep eventually. We mentioned our approach, that we don't want to do any of this and mumbled some explanations. We also had her put Leander back on the sofa when he started crying after she picked him up. It worked. But only for him.
Ever since this discussion comes up again and again and you can tell that sometimes she is a little insecure about what she is "allowed" to do.

With my mother, who came to visit after we had the discussion with the "in laws" I decided to take the small road. I told her about Emmi Pikler, about those principles and what we liked about them. I made sure I did not sound reproachful. Because in the end they are our parents. They raised us and I'm sure they were just trying to do a good. Just like we are trying now. So I'm certainly not standing here with a parenting experience of a few months telling my mom, who raised two kids, what she has done wrong.

Of course I would love all people that have contact with Leander to be as thoughtful and respectful as I am trying to be. To be aware of the principles behind. But even we fail from time to time. And this is ok, this is how we learn, this is how we reflect. That does not mean that Leander is raised the wrong way on some days. He just learns that things can go wrong or - to not sound so negative - different. And so he will realise for himself that his grandparents do things different. Do different things to him. If they hold and bounce him up and down. Let them do so. If they pick him up without telling him before - he'll survive. It will not disturb what we have built up over time. And it will not disturb the relationship to our beloved parents.
There is the exception for the gross motor development. We would not want them to "help" Leander crawl, sit or walk. But fortunately so far they have not intended to do so.

And yes I do imagine there will be times when he is older and spending longer periods at his grandparents, that he gets home and we have to "fix" some habits. But this would be the case no matter which way we are raising our child. Because this it what grandparents are there for: to allow later bedtimes and chocolate before breakfast. And this is what WE loved OUR grandparents for.

so yeah... let them be.

on this topic also read this post by Janet Lansbury

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