Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hyper parenting? Un-hyper grandparenting?

Grandparent books. The disconnect between parental and grandparental expectations, or perhaps to frame it better expectations on themselves, is very clear when you start browsing grandparent books.

Why would I start browsing grandparent books? Possibly because my parents, always falling over themselves to improve their relationship with us and Beloved in particular, sent us a book about hyper-parenting.

Because it was my father who sent it, and he, although making stuff-all effort most of the time (he hasn't seen his grandson yet), does not have a history of criticising Beloved, Beloved took this ok. She's actually attempting to read it.

But you can only make 1 of 2 things out of such a gift: they think generally parenting has gone hyper and want to get us thinking about it, or they think we specifically are a risk for this. If it's the latter it's just the latest in a long line of cases of my father not listening, not knowing who I am and making assumptions that are rather displaced from reality.

Kind of like where being isolated and depressed at boarding school translates into 'having lots of fun and partying'.

We have no 'hyper' plans for the kids- even our favourite, number 1 preferred activity for them (music) is entirely optional in our minds and plans. We aren't planning to:

- send them to boarding school (over my dead body would I perpetrate such misery on my own children);

- judge their aptitude for creative pursuits based on whether they tough it out with strict lessons and practice;

- keep them from watching any TV whatsoever;

- get them maths tutoring the moment they start getting marks slightly less than A+;

- tell them they are a failure if they don't pass year 12;

- get them all excited about going on a student exchange then tell them they can only go if they are accepted in a program to go to Japan, because people work hard there and that'll sort you out;

- push them to 'do useful things' like cadets, learning to fly gliders, duke of ed, anything whatsoever except play with friends, because that's a 'waste of time';

- et. cetera.

Who would that be? Not the very same father who just sent the book about hyper-parenting?

Anyways, so in the spirit of humour I went looking for a suitable guidebook on grandparenting to send back. Something like the Idiot's Guide to Grandparenting, for example. And what do you know? The Idiot's Guide has all but flopped, no copies in Australia. And only about 3 books with any sense of 'instructional' about them. And about 6,000* indulging grandparental wants, from how to infect grandkids with your religious beliefs to why this really is your rightful time to have fun and take no responsibility.


How about a new grandparenting book with the following chapters:

OMG you aren't the parents anymore

OMG means Oh My God and 1000 other things you may have missed in the past 2 decades

Like the shift from formula back to breastfeeding

Was your son riding a bike and speaking French at the age of 3 or is it your memory?

Why DID that umpteenth insult fcuk up your relationship with your daughter in law?

Planes- why it's just as easy for 2 middle aged people to fly as a family of 4

Tits on a bull- rethinking useful and useless input

I'm onto something here. No grandparents would buy it, of course.

Anyway, I decided not to send anything back, partly to give him the benefit of the doubt and partly because I can spend the money more fruitfully on a large bag of Haigh's chocolates. Happy wife equates to more immediate and tangible rewards.

File under ng ng ng ng...

*possible exaggeration due to annoyance here.


Ann ODyne said...

and our Blogocracy is so good for venting one's angst.
You are so right. specially about the 5-star chocs for beloved: a good father is a good husband first.
my parents were so vile (I saw them on Dr.Phil today) that boarding school would have been a haven, but I know many people scarred by it.
I know also, a Hyper-Parent.
Inner City Gen X govt law policy writer. sent 3-y-o son to me when I was housesitting 22 chooks
"He needs to experience poultry" she said to me.
I have known her since her infancy and it was spent playing naked, with beer bottles on the floor while daddy's band rehearsed in the lounge. There's always an explanation for hyper-parenting.

I had the laissez-faire kind. Somewhere in the middle is nice.
love to youse all, Brownie

seepi said...

There are courses for grandparents about how things have changed - sids stuff, but also slings and breastfeeding. I'm surprised there are no books like that.

but yeah - don't enter into it. you can never win.

I am trying to work on my dad not to criticise miss only-just-three for messing up the words of a nursery rhyme. he thinks I am ridiculous and my 'positivity only' insistence is silly, but he is complying, so I don't care.

Penthe said...

Am laughing at the thought of the books parents would write for the instruction of grandparents.

'No, he is not a bad-tempered, evil-natured baby. He is just hungry'.

'Just don't stuff him up as badly as you did my husband'


'Use your words: tantrums are for two year olds, not 62 year olds'

*These are jokes for effect only - after a rocky start, my own parents and in-laws have been copybook grandparents. Gratitude aplenty.

Dave Bath said...

I guess I'm lucky - unless (like now) I'm sick - I stay at my daughter's with my 2yo grandson. She accuses me of little more than "enjoying playing with blocks more than he does" or "letting the boy jump on you too much".

But then (and just in the last few months) I've also * configured her phone for email and internet * got her onto her first social site (facebook).

Not all grandparents have had their eyes closed to the changes in the world.

Perhaps you should say to your folks, who after all were young in the 60s and 70s "chill, enjoy turning off all the adult bits of your brain for a while and being a child again (apart from an eye for safety and knowing how to cook/change/etc). For toddlers, don't push music, let them dance to you playing the piano, let them watch you read. Enjoy watching programs that don't have obscene words in them."

But then, my father was pretty laid-back with my daughter. A great example for my own grandparenting.

That said, there ARE times you jump in with tips, like saying "if you want him to not bite on the toothbrush, open your own mouth wide while you brush your own teeth, and let him try to brush yours, then clamp down on the toothbrush in your mouth to stop his fun, then relax again."

The only thing I /cannot/ stand is being forced by the boy to watch Iggle-want-to-wring-his-neck-Piggle.

Besides, enjoying being child-like is an important life-skill for grandparents - all too soon we'll be drooling idiots in nappies, be at a loss for words, have problems feeding ourselves without making a mess, etc, etc ourselves!

Armagny said...

Dave, you feel like adopting a new family? We've got several grandparents already, can fit one more in.

The kind of tips you refer to above would be very welcome, but sadly aren't forthcoming. It's more like: "they're putting on a LOT of weight" (as if this is a bad thing in a breastfed baby) or "so are they STILL using nappies?"

blue milk said...

Beautiful! Ah parents, don't they just love to tell you how to suck eggs.