The grandparent relationship is important in your child's life, but sometimes that relationship can take some work on your end, especially with your partner's parents. It can be extremely frustrating if you feel that grandparents are not listening to your wishes or are disrespecting your parenting choices. If you can find out the reason why the grandparents aren't listening to you and remedy it, you should be able to reduce tension and salvage the relationship to keep gatherings happy. Here are a few things to think about when examining your situation:
Have you made your wishes known?
They can't read your mind, so don't expect them to. Be clear with your parenting choices, and repeat those wishes often if needed. Chrissie, a working mom of two boys, used to get very frustrated that her in-laws, who lived nearby, would never offer to help her when her husband was traveling for work. She let her frustration build, and it led to a lot of hurt feelings and even some fights with her husband. But when she finally confronted her in-laws, they were completely taken aback. They had no idea that Chrissie wanted help or was feeling overwhelmed. As soon as they knew she needed help, her in-laws started pitching in a lot more when her husband was traveling. Chrissie was relieved by the extra sets of hands and realized that she never asked for help. The relationship between her and her in-laws has improved, and they are even friends now.
Are you getting support from your partner?
If you are making your wishes known but you are still getting some resistance from the grandparents, it might be time to check in with your partner to be sure you both are on the same page. Molly, mother of one, found that even though she asked her in-laws to give her daughter a nap when they watched her, they weren't following her instructions. When Molly's daughter didn't have a nap, she was difficult to handle in the evenings. Even though Molly reiterated the importance of naptime to her in-laws, her daughter always came home without a nap. Molly finally got fed up and told her husband that she didn't want her in-laws to watch their daughter anymore. Her husband said he had told his parents that napping wasn't important and they could keep their daughter up so they could play. Molly and her husband had been sending mixed signals. After Molly and her husband started giving the same message to the grandparents, naps started immediately.
Are you speaking the same language?
According to the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, everyone shows love in different ways. When you are able to understand that, you might feel your frustration lessen a bit. My husband and I often get frustrated that his parents constantly give our son gifts. We have communicated our wishes, but they still insist on giving our son a gift or "prize" whenever he comes to visit. During the holidays and on his birthday, the gifts are lavish and expensive. We prefer that our son is not conditioned to expect gifts every time he visits, and frankly, we have enough toys. Stop sending the gifts, already! But we have realized that my in-laws speak a different love language. They show their love through giving gifts, and that is something that we cannot change about them. Instead of fighting it, we are working with it because it is a battle that we will likely not win.
Keep in mind, grandparents do not wish to make you crazy, even if that ends up being the result. Be honest, be respectful, and be a good role model for your kids when dealing with the conflict. Good luck!