Nothing beats the love of a proud grandparent. Going to grandma’s house inevitably means getting spoiled with lots of hugs, cookies and new toys. But now a new study is saying that grandparents could actually be causing harm to their grandkids as a result of outdated parenting beliefs.
The research showed that many grandparents still believe in dangerous childcare practices such as using ice baths to decrease a child’s temperature or giving water to a newborn. (Babies shouldn’t be given water before they are 6 months old.)
Of course grandparents mean well, but the researchers say that the older generation’s lack of knowledge about today’s best practices for childcare could mean that they inadvertently put their grandchildren in harm’s way. For example, when it comes to things like using a car seat correctly or putting babies to sleep on their backs, older folks might not realize that things have changed since they were parenting little ones.
Or perhaps they do realize guidelines have changed, but they decide that, “Hey, I raised five kids just fine, I think I know what I am doing!” Sound familiar?
Just ask any parent with a young child: We have all had that awkward experience where grandparent or an older relative scorns us for worrying about car seat safety or fretting about the dangers of an infant sleeping with a blanket or a stuffed animal. “We didn’t do that way in my day,” they say. “And we all turned out just fine!”
Well, some did. But sadly, many didn’t. That’s why the medical community now has more comprehensive knowledge to offer parents to help us keep our little ones safe. In fact, in the last decade alone, infant mortality rates have dropped 15 percent, thanks in large part to efforts like the “Back to Sleep” campaign, which educates parents about proper sleep positions for babies.
It can be hard for a grandparent to step back and follow the younger generation’s advice, especially as it can sometimes feel like a personal attack. (“Does she think I don’t know how to take care of a baby?” or “I would never do anything to hurt my precious grandson, why would she assume otherwise?”) But it is important to realize that there is a difference between education and criticism.
At the end of the day, all grandparents want is for their grandbabies to be safe and healthy, and any advice that can help ensure that should be welcomed and heeded. And to that end, it wouldn’t hurt parents to be a little tactful and kind when correcting the grandparents. (We know, we know—that is easier said than done when you have mastitis, you’ve only had five hours of sleep in the last week and your mother-in-law is meddling. But just try.)
What about you? Have you ever struggled with the grandparents over caregiving? Grandparents, have the kids ever given you a hard time about your way of taking care of the little ones?