Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Competitive (Grand)Parenting

When my husband and I were first married, we tried to please everyone:
my two sets of parents and his one set.
For all of you who have been there, you know, it's impossible for two people to please 4 parents let alone six or more nowadays.
Each set of parents comes with their own way of doing things, their own priorities, & perhaps worst of all, their own expectations.Attempts at making all 6 parents happy in our young relationship lead to total craziness and discontent on our hearts.
We attempted Christmases that hit three houses all hours apart from each other (this meant a three ring circus!)
I begged to elope because I couldn't handle the idea of my four parents competitive say in what I wore, who walked me down the aisle, and how the wedding was done.
We ultimately went crazy...
then we had our son.

At the birth of our son we had two of my parents who didn't make it and then a hospital waiting room with my mom & his mom.
Not only was my son born but so was a new form of competitive parenting and the birth of competitive grandparenting.

Between a Portuguese man and a Norwegian girl, we all expected a little brown haired, brown eyed baby, but what we got was a beautiful strawberry blonde, blue eyed boy.
Enter: CRAZY.
All of a sudden we had parents saying things like,
"His upper lip looks just like [his paternal grandpa's]."
This was ACTUALLY said.
Everyone wanted a piece of this little boy.

Well, this little boy got older and most recently, especially with the onset of our upcoming addition, there's NEW crazy.
Crazy like:
if one grandparent gets our son a toy, the other grandparent has to.
if i refer to my son by his first & middle name, one grandparent force feeds him his first and last name.
if one grandparent hears our son say he loves another grandparent, the grandparent says, "what about me?"

Annnnd this is officially NOT Okay and where I coined the term "Competitive Grandparenting."

Each of our parents carries their own insecurities.
Two parents are insecure about another set's love language of gifts.
Another set of grandparents are insecure about another set's love language of time.
and so on...
Each set of parents is vying for the central focused love of our son & this is where I say

Growing up in a divorced and severely dysfunctional set of parental relationships,
I KNOW what it's like to walk on eggshells and feel like you can't love one parent in front of another.
This will NOT be tolerated for our kids.
We will soon have 2 precious babes that have EVERY RIGHT to
each one of their grandparents inside and outside of their relationship to each one.
The insecurities of these adults will NOT be placed on our kids to
cater to
or fear
Our kids deserve to
talk about how they love x, y, z in front of whoever they want
to be excited about a gift received by x, y, or z
to be a kid who is loved by x, y, & z.

It's one thing to competitive Parent a married set of adults--
that's something each married couple has to go through and establish individual relationships with.
It's quite another to competitive Grandparent and as a protective mama bird, completely unacceptable.
It's true, I have a heightened sensitivity to it as a product of my 4 parents,
but I think it has made me a more aware parent.

Oh, how in need of love and how broken we all are in one area or another...


  1. Bravo for taking a stand on how you want to parent and that theses precious babies are yours not their grandparents. We took the same stand with our extended family. Wishing you a wonderful day,

  2. Oh my gosh, do I know what you mean?! Ours is more passive aggressive, but still so annoying and NOT okay. Different love languages is perfect way to say it. Light bulb moment for me! You can love whoever and talk about whoever in front of whoever. Geez! I love you cousin friend. SO perfectly said. :)

  3. when baby comes i'm totally ganna start competitive auntie-ing :)