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5 Signs Your Baby’s Better Off Without Grandma

“It’s a terrible myth to believe that once we have children, our journey ends and theirs begins.” - Brené Brown

woman pregnant with baby shoes

Are you dealing with a grandma-to-be who’s upping your waiting-for-baby stress levels instead of lowering them? Is she making this important time in your life way too much about her and not even close to enough about you? Is she calling your baby “our baby” (cringe!), planning her “grandma shower,” or overstepping already?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these, you’ve come to the right place. In this post I’m going over 5 signs that choosing to go no-contact with grandma is just as necessary as choosing a pediatrician. Let’s get started.

1. Grandma invalidates your feelings.

If grandma-to-be invalidates your feelings, you can bet she’ll invalidate your baby’s feelings, too. Invalidation sounds like “Calm down,” “It’s not that bad,” and “Stop being so negative.” And invalidation isn’t a small thing. It’s actually a form of emotional abuse that’s now being correlated with insecure attachment, anxiety, depression, borderline personality disorder, C-PTSD, poor quality relationships, and more. Other examples of invalidation include:

  • “I can’t believe you’re bothered about that.”

  • “Stop crying.”

  • “You’re being too sensitive.”

  • “Get over it.”

  • “Think positive!”

  • “You’re making a mountain out of a mole hill.”

  • “Just let it go.”

  • “No one else is upset.”

2. Grandma’s already overstepping.

Baby isn’t even here yet and Grandma’s already overwhelming you with unsolicited parenting advice or criticizing your birthing or parenting plans without cause (as in it’s not the baby she’s actually concerned about)? That’s a major red flag that’s likely to get worse with time rather than better. It’s one thing to be excited about becoming a grandparent to this new little one and another to think you’re the third parent. Other overstepping grandma red flags to watch out for include:

  • She refers to the baby as “our baby.”

  • She trues to manipulate you/your partner into doing things her way.

  • She says things like, “Rules aren’t for Grandmas!”

  • She’s oddly possessive of the baby.

  • She makes plans for the baby without consulting you/your partner.

3. Grandma spanked her children.

“Spanking” is just a cutesy word for physically assaulting children, and if your baby’s future grandma thought it was somehow okay to hit her own children when she was parenting, what’s to say she won’t think it’s okay to hit yours when she’s grandparenting? Keeping someone with a history of hitting children away from your baby isn’t something you need to feel guilty about. It’s common sense parenting. As I always am saying to my clients, you know what’s better than having a grandma? Not being traumatized by one as a child.

4. Grandma’s homophobic or transphobic.

You might think you can bring up your baby around a grandma who hates LGBTQ+ people—“She’s just from a different time”—and have it all work out, but I strongly encourage you to think again. It’s not like Grandma can leave her bigotry tucked away in a box every time she comes by for a visit. Realistically I see this going one of two ways. Either your child is LGBTQ+ and they get the message from this important person in their life that something’s inherently wrong with them OR they aren’t LGBTQ+ and they start mimicking grandma’s hatred (get ready for those calls from school). Obviously neither option is a good one, but then again there’s nothing good about hatred.

5. Grandma doesn't do boundaries.

If there’s something parents are more aware of today than they were twenty or thirty years ago it’s the importance of teaching children healthy boundaries. And parents who are knowledgeable about child development are starting early. Think infancy. We don’t usually talk about it, but the truth is that newborn babies come into the world quite capable of communicating their boundaries. They do this by giving what infant mental health specialists call cues and also by crying. Curious how Grandma will respond when your baby signals they need to eat but Grandma wants to keep taking pictures? Think back to how she’s responded in the past to you when you set boundaries with her. Can’t think of a time when you felt able to tell her no about something because you didn’t want to hurt her feelings or make her mad? There’s your sign.


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