Hi, Carolyn: We're expecting our first baby (yay!). In my family, a much-anticipated rite of passage for new grandparents is to decide what they will be called by grandkids. My own grandparents supposedly did this, and I have been witness to my aunts and uncles having a great time batting around ideas while waiting for the babies to be born.
I was very excited for my parents to have this opportunity, and they're already brainstorming some sweet and hilarious ideas. But in my husband's family — which is VERY nuclear-family-centric, meaning that grandparents who want to be involved are expected to in all ways bend to the needs and whims of their adult children — it's the parents who decide what their kids will call the grandparents.
He is not against the names my parents are considering, but he is offended on principle that an important* decision affecting our kids is being made by someone other than us.
How do we reconcile these competing expectations?
*He thinks it's important; I think it's trivial unless they come up with something problematic, say, a term they don't realize is a slur.
Expecting: Where there is irreconcilable disagreement: His family, his rites; your family, your rites.
That’s the template.
Offended on principle? Over Bubbie and PawPaw? I know I have no say in this whatsoever, but his offense offends me.
If I were his doctor, I’d be recommending an emergency stickectomy.
I hope he’s not this controlling on anything else.
Re: Grandparent names: Hahahahahahahahahahaha. Now that I have that out of my system, please understand neither you, nor he, nor anyone's parents will decide what the grandparents are called, the kids will.
Hahahahahaha: Fact. Thanks.
Re: Grandparent names: Doesn't appear to bode well for future boundary issues with his family's RIGHT way, nor for future challenges that will appear with future discussions about how to raise children. Seems they grew up with very different family philosophies.
Predicting: Right. Authoritarian on his part, it seems, and authoritative or permissive on hers. Better to navigate a path through these differences now, and the grandparent-naming issue is as good an entry point as any. Thanks.
Re: Emergency stickectomy: In our home, it's a corncob-ectomy.
Dear Carolyn: My son is involved with a woman who has a young child from a previous relationship. As I understand it, the kid's father is still marginally and inconsistently in the picture. Also, even though my son seems to really love the kid, his relationship with his girlfriend is somewhat unstable, and he says he does not see himself marrying her in the near future.
I now see the child on a pretty regular basis, but feel as though she could be out of my life any second. What are best practices for not adding to the instability already swirling around this very sweet little girl? She already has two very loving grandparents.
Not-Quite-Grandmother: Teacher, neighbor, babysitter, friend’s parent — these are roles in so many children’s lives that can be warm and caring and, in most cases, temporary. And the kids are (in most cases) okay with that. Just know that even a cameo appearance can provide a loving boost to a child.