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"Hands-on Gran" or "Hands off, Gran"

(32 Posts)
gracesmum Sat 15-Oct-11 17:42:33

Am I alone in thinking there is a very fine line between these two? I aspire to being a "Hands-on Granny" as I appreciated the help I often had from my mother-in-law when mine were young (although not when they were babies) and missed out on it from my own Mum was not really a "baby person"(!)
However it is hard isn't it to "keep Mum" at times and I vividly remember when my little grandson was crying and my daughter, who unfortunately at the time was subscribing to Gina Ford complained it was too early for his feed. I said "Oh why don't you just feed him" and got the reply "Mum, he's MY baby and I will decide when he gets fed"!!
So Grannies - are you hands on? Do you come up against "Hands off"??

susiecb Sun 16-Oct-11 12:50:56

I'm afraid we have had the Gina Ford conversation too I have learnt when to back off even though your hands itch too help them i suppose they have to make their own mistakes. We didnt I know I did exactly what my mother told me to do even though I was seething with resentment. I was also exhausted with sleepless nights and a permanantly vomiting baby so I tried anything that sounded like help. They all know so much more these days - they think!

Mamie Sun 16-Oct-11 13:53:15

Funny isn't it really how these things go in cycles. My mother and MIL were the Truby King generation who used to say "Put that baby down, it's only 3 hours and 43 minutes since the last feed...."
As I only see mine for a very few weeks a year I am hands-on when I get the chance...

goldengirl Sun 16-Oct-11 15:39:00

I itch to put in my two penn'orth sometimes but have been gently put in my place when I have. That said it is accepted that in my house it's Grandma's rules if I have them without their parents. I am very hands on though as I see a lot of them and treat them as I did my own. Luckily collisions with parents are very infrequent as we're more or less on the same wavelength - neither set of parents seems to follow any 'official' guidelines. I didn't have any help when my were young except for a work worn DH who was - and still is - an excellent support with the little ones. I think young parents have a lot more support these days for the most part.

raggygranny Sun 16-Oct-11 16:24:50

I use the formula 'I don't know if it's allowed these days or not, but I used to find X useful when you were a baby/toddler/whatever'. That way the suggestion is there without the implication of 'I know best'. My youngest DD frequently phones to ask what I did when she was a baby, so she must see some value in it!

Jangran Sun 16-Oct-11 16:34:35

I guess it varies depending on the daughter with me. With the elder, she seems to like a hands-on style from me, and often asks advice or discusses problems she is having.

The younger is the opposite - "my child, and that is the end of it". I find that a bit difficult, but try to get around it by having the children to myself from time to time, so I do not feel that I am answering to my own daughter's standards about my behaviour.

I kind of feel that is the wrong way round. I have always tried not to come the heavy parent since the girls grew up, but I do sometimes feel as if my younger daughter has become the heavy parent herself over me, using her children as the excuse. Probably that is exaggerating, though.

Pennysue Sun 16-Oct-11 18:40:34

I only gave advise if I was asked apart from one time. My GS was 12lb plus when he was born and was always hungry and cried alot. I suggested to DiL, who was at the end of her tether, he might be hungry and was informed that he was to young for solids according to the health visitor but DiL was willing to try anything to get some sleep. Sent DH to shop to get baby rice gave GS a bottle with some rice and, hey prest, he slept and thrived from that time on. How can the same rules apply to a 6lb baby and one twice as heavy? GS is now 17, over 6' and captains both a rugby and football team!

DiL phoned on another occasion to ask what "old wives" trick I had for a teething baby in the middle of the night! (well actually it was 10pm) so I suggested a trick from the GGM - wet your finger with whisky and rub in on his gums. DiL phoned back 5 mins later to let me know he as no longer crying but smacking his lips!

Gally Sun 16-Oct-11 19:41:29

The Doc at my baby clinic advised me to give a teaspoon of brandy/whisky at midnight - she did it with her 4 and it did the trick! I try to keep my own counsel with my 3 daughters but it's difficult not to say ' Ah, but when you were a baby I.......' They just say 'Mum, it's not like that now, you can't give a baby under one an egg/cows milk/frogs legs or whatever (!)/yoghurt/ lie baby on its back/put rice in the milk/make the baby alcoholic with a drop of whisky....... How my 3 survived I'll never know! hmm I must say, I think I was far more relaxed about the whole thing than they are - no internet to refer to in those days - only dear old Dr. Spock and trial and error. Obviously didn't affect the brain as they have 5 degrees between them smile

Pennysue Mon 17-Oct-11 11:09:28

I think the best advise I could give is "throw the book away the baby has not read it" , treat each human as an individual and use your common sense. Ask others (of all ages) what they did and see if that suits your child.

gracesmum Mon 17-Oct-11 13:34:09

Great suggestions, Grans - thank you. As you say, how on earth did our own children survive as we obviously, ike Manuel "Know nothng!"

apricot Mon 17-Oct-11 22:03:40

I try very hard not to interfere as I wouldn't have liked it when my children were young, but I told my daughter she shouldn't give her child orange squash and she was furious. She said I was trying to make her feel guilty but it will be too late to feel guilty if his teeth rot. My mother gave my children Ribena and they would never drink water again and all needed fillings.

dorsetpennt Tue 18-Oct-11 09:30:02

raggygranny I'll pinch your saying if you don't mind it is very helpful. I help when asked - which I often am - I let my DIL and son do the babycare as it is their child and if I keep stepping in it will be confusing for everyone. Baby No:2 will be with us in a month and I'm going up for before and during [home birth] and her Mother will come sometime after. Mainly to help with their 2 year old daughter. I try and be 'useful' with shopping,washing, ironing etc so they can concentrate on the baby and also have a bit of a sleep when they can. It worked very well the first time. Also as the paternal granny I feel I can't interfere like the maternal granny. We have a wonderful relationship but it is different isn't it when it's not your daughter?
cupcake just fancied doing this!!! lol

GadaboutGran Tue 18-Oct-11 17:38:27

I have a new Grandson, born on Saturday!!! So I'm entering a new arena with a daughter-in-law who is very independent. They live in Germany, I'm dying to get there but am having to hold my horses until they are ready, but praise be to Skype. My son is already asking his sister for advice which I encourage as it boosts her confidence. When my daughter asked what I did when they were babies, I couldn't for the life of me remember! I never read a baby book and probably never did the same thing twice with any of my three. My one rule was to do the opposite to my mother whose ideas were probably based on Truby King, though she didn't know it. That of course was stupid as it meant I was still tied to her views. My advice to mums is to listen to views politely, but do your own thing according to what is right for your child & pragmatic for you.

elderflower1 Tue 18-Oct-11 20:18:14

During the baby stage my daughter kept me very much hands off. Now gd is an active todler she is only too glad for me to be hands on. I played the waiting game and only offered advice if asked and then tentively. Like raggygranny I would say this is what I did but things may have changed.

I was also advised to rub whisky on my babies gums to ease the pain and help them sleep. Worked a treat but hush can't tell dd this.

JustAGran Wed 19-Oct-11 08:13:19

Too late I've already messed up by being too "hands on" - but I have now learned my lesson and have become "hands off". Couldn't help myself though as my mum was brilliant when I had my three but those were the days when families all helped one another without question. Brilliant topic gracesmum. Its always difficult to get things right with our daughters and daughters-in-law about advice but we get there in the end!!

jenniewren Thu 20-Oct-11 14:57:08

I'm a first-time gran, my new granddaughter is just 3 weeks old. I'm absolutely loving being a gran and adore her. I'm having trouble, though, as the paternal gran, knowing how much to get involved - not so much with offering advice, but just wanting to help. My husband's parents weren't particularly involved with our children (their choice), but my mum and dad were very hands-on. I get on well with my daughter-in-law but this is new territory for us all. I'd love to be a hands-on gran but don't want to overstep the mark and have tried to leave them in peace to get established as a family. I know that my DIL takes my GD to see her mum but doesn't come to see me (we all live fairly near to each other). I also found out yesterday that they are going away for a week in November with the other grandparents. I suppose there's part of me that's just plain jealous! And I don't want to be like that. Any advice from any other grans who are 'the mother-in-law?' I feel that if it was my daughter, it would all be much easier, but having 4 sons and 1 daughter, I need to get it right for the future!

VodafoneB17 Thu 20-Oct-11 15:49:31

Congratulations on becoming a grandma.
When you're testing out new territory you're bound to over and under step the mark as part of the process so do stop worrying & just admit it if you get it worng. You get on well with dil so I'm sure the answer is to sit down and have a nice chat with her about what help she most needs and how she thinks you could best help, making clear what you are able to do and how much time you can give. Best not to come over as desperate though.
I wonder - if her parents hadn't asked them to go away first, would you have thought of asking them? If the answer is yes, wait a bit so it doesn't seem like you are setting up a competition and ask them if they'd like to go with you.

I could suggest you sound out your son but I've just done that with mine about how soon dil would be ready for us to fly out to see new grandson and he got it wrong - his hesitancy cost us much higher fares but she really wants us there soon, though we will stay in a Etap nearby! the advantage of Dils is that they can be politer than some daughters!

pinkprincess Thu 20-Oct-11 18:09:01

I have no daughters so I am the paternal grandmother to DS2s five children from his two marriages.
I had it lucky as they have all lived with me-in fact he, his wife no.2 and their two children have been living with me since elder child was born 10 years ago.Now one of his daughters from his first marriage has moved in (her own choice) she is 15.
The other sets of grandparents never showed much interest at all, especially his present wife's parents.DIL works three days a week and I collect the two young ones from school and care for them in the school holidays.I have been caring for them since they were new born babies it is sometimes exhausting but I love it. I sometimes feel that the other set of grandparents should help more but no offers at all.
My own mother never helped and my MIL only when she felt like it.I said then I would never be like them when I had my own grandchildren.

Proudgrandma Fri 21-Oct-11 16:57:59

I am a hands on mum as my GS of 3 has severe Cerebral Palsy. I also have a GD of 18 months too.
My daughter is glad of the help and I try to help with ironing too.
My hubby, who has MS, but can still, a little, get about, and he tries to help out, by baby sitting them. He mainly sits on his chair and watches GD.
I never had any help at all with my daughter and son, as my own mum died in a car crash when I was 25, and newly pregnant with my first baby.
My MIL never helped at all, but she never helped any of her children, and she had 6 of her own.
My grandchildren keep us going, and GD is saying and doing things that sadly my GS has never done. Both are so loved! :0

gracesmum Fri 21-Oct-11 18:05:50

Loved and loving I hope - how lucky they are to have a GM like you!cupcake

bikergran Sat 22-Oct-11 08:28:20

Proudgranma i'm sure your family are as proud ! of you! as you are of

gracesmum Sat 22-Oct-11 12:36:52

Just an afterthought to remind me of positive things - when DGS was under the weather a few weeks back and DD had to go to London (SIL also away from home that day ) she left little fella very unwillingly saying "There's no one else I would have left him with but you, Mum". Little things like that are ery comforting and reassuring!

ginny3 Sun 23-Oct-11 15:52:04

i am very lucky to be a hands on Nanna, both my daughters have children, 3 lovely gds. both of them live close, one just around the corner and one a bus ride away,so i see my gds often. i now fetch 2 of them from school when my work rota allows this, as dd has started her nurses training. it is so lovely to have a very close relationship with gc and i know i am very fortunate. advise is usually only given when im asked they used to ring me when the gds were babies asking advise, but now they are much more confident and dont seem to need this as much.

apricot Tue 25-Oct-11 20:04:07

ginny3 - my daughter also started nursing training when her children were little and could not possibly have done it without me and her MIL nearby. She had to work shifts as well as drive 40 miles to college. Her husband works nights so she needed childcare all hours of the day and night for 3 years. Once qualified of course the shifts continued. Where would working mums be without family help?

gracesmum Tue 25-Oct-11 21:37:36

That is a valid point but of course it is a win-win situation as you gain a better relationship with the GC than the sort of stiff dutiful realtionship that existed for many people a generation ago. My Scottsh GPs probably thought they were doing exactly the right thing by having us for tea every Sunday (and sometimes to the Congregational Chursh of which they were stalwarts). My German GPs would come for 4 weeks every so often, but again, I have no recollection of fun activities - both sets were OLD (to me) and did things like afternoon naps, taking us for boring walks where we had to be on best behaviour and generally had very little to do with their GC. I am sure they loved us but that's not the granny I want to be!