Question

Giving Unsolicited Advice as a Grandparent

Question:

I’m off to a rocky start with my son and his wife after an early birth of their daughter (37 weeks and first grandchild). I mentioned that the baby had a bright red rash from the wipes (which I experienced with my first). This led my son to research and they ended up using some oil to soothe her.

I’ve since been told I was “wrong” for saying anything and they don’t want any advice unless asked for. I’m torn and confused as to what I can and cannot say. Was I wrong?

Response:

Congratulations on being a new grandmother!

It might help for you to think back to your first experiences as a mother. New parents are confused, exhausted and emotionally sensitive. Things are even more difficult when a new baby comes along earlier than expected.

I can’t say why your son and his wife reacted as they did, but it may have been the timing rather than the advice.

It typically works best when you let your children know you are willing to be available to answer any questions they may have. Tell them you will do so if you know the answer, that you won’t provide an answer if you don’t have one and that you will provide another resource for the answer if you can.

As grandparents, we also need to remember that many things have changed since we had children, so what worked for us may not apply any longer.

If you are concerned about something that you think is absolutely crucial for them to know, first ask, “Would you like some information about __?” If they say “no,” encourage them to talk with their pediatrician or another qualified professional about it.

Most often, if grandparents offer to be available to provide advice when asked, rather than give unsolicited advice, new parents will be more likely to ask for help.

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