As young married adults raising our first-born daughter, it has been interesting and at times challenging to negotiate the changing relationship we have with our own parents. As we try to make our place in the world, we are torn between needing the wisdom of our parents who have been there while wanting the freedom to make our own choices, shape our own household, and perhaps even do things differently than they did. Fortunately, our parents make it easy on us in these five ways.
We appreciate when our parents have an open mind.
Some doctors' recommendations and trendy parenting strategies are different than they were when our parents were raising us. If I want to try out a new sleep training system or method of introducing solid food, I appreciate when our parents have an open mind and don't immediately try to defend "the way we did it." When we need our parents' advice about the way they did things, we ask for it.
We appreciate when our parents have respect for our way of doing things.
Along with having an open mind, my husband and I love when our parents respect the routines, choices, and boundaries we've set up for our daughter. When they don't complain about using our cloth diapers or sticking to an early bedtime, they reinforce their respect for our authority when it comes to parenting our child.
We appreciate when our parents make room for all families.
It can be hard to balance all three families in our life: that is, the families we each grew up with and the one we've started together. Splitting up holidays, desiring some weekends to do our own thing, and managing the expectations on either side - it all has the potential to cause tension. We really appreciate when our parents make room for the other families in our lives, both in terms of time and attitude.
We appreciate when our parents don't place pressure on us.
Being married is hard. Having a kid is hard. Making ends meet is hard. And meeting our parents' expectations could be hard, too. We appreciate when our parents take care not to place pressure on us. When they offer us opportunities to get together but understand if we can't take them up on it every time, we feel a sense of relief. When they suggest ways to do things but don't make us feel inadequate if we go another route, we feel supported rather than suffocated.
We appreciate when our parents offer us unconditional love and support.
Nothing makes us happier than when our parents show us unconditional love and support. When they come to help us around the house "just because," when we can tell they appreciate even the shortest time they get to spend with our baby, or when they buy us a little something they know we could use, all without expecting anything in return, we are reminded how blessed we are to have them. Our parents gave us a shining example of how to parent when we were kids. Now, they're teaching us how to one day let our kids parent. For that, we are grateful.
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