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How to Avoid War with the Grandparents

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Recipe: Pour in two sets of loving grandparents, add two more sets of caring step-grandparents, and sprinkle liberally with a doting dash of Great-Grandma.

Question: What delicious dish do you get when you try this new recipe?

Answer: A yummy stew of love and attention!

Keep the Grandparent Stew from Overheating

The secret to keeping this stew from boiling over is scheduling visits to avoid overwhelming the new parents.

Put yourself in their shoes; that can help you make good decisions about when and how frequently you stop by, so your visits will be appreciated and helpful rather than feeling like intrusions. Coordinating with the new parents and other grandparents can open the lines of communication and avoid potential future conflicts.

If All Else Fails, Negotiate

If necessary, rely on the fine art of negotiation to help all parties come to a resolution with few hurt feelings. In negotiation, empathy is crucial: Ask yourself how the new parents will feel if they are caught in the middle of a conflict between grandparents. And how will the other grandparents feel if you demand more visits or fuss about how much time they spend with the baby?

Good negotiating is especially important now, because questions of who visits when may be only the beginning of the grandparent wars. If there are religious differences, conflicts may arise over which will dominate or how - and where - holidays will be celebrated. These decisions should be left up to the baby's parents - and the grandparents should accept them without exerting undue pressure.

If you find yourself negotiating with the other grandparents over issues such as visits or who's buying what for the baby, let the other grandparents know where you stand. Of course, being reasonable will reduce potential conflict. If the other grandparents object to your request, ask them in a kind way what they would consider reasonable. Be willing to change your request; if you dig in and continue to demand your way, the fallout could hurt your relationship with the new parents and the baby.

If you find yourself feeling hurt because you're not getting what you want, think about compromise as a collaboration that works for the best for the baby and the new parents - and therefore you.

 
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