a special collaborative column!
|By: Kerry Bone, Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D. and Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D.|
changes that a new baby will bring to daily life, it is
normal to experience changes in how you perceive your
family relationships and even your upbringing. Having a
baby of your own is particularly certain to influence the
nature of your relationship with your parents in subtle
and/or obvious ways. How they react to you and your baby
can be very important to you.
Perhaps you imagined including them in the birth or at least the early days after homecoming. You probably imagined the pride and admiration they would show over your precious little bundle. Particularly if your relationship was distant or rocky, and this was your first child, you may have hoped that your baby could provide a bridge between you and your parents, or at least smooth the way. Perhaps you imagined leaning on them for advice and support, or commiserating with them about "normal" newborn antics.
But when your baby arrived early, your best "grandparent plans" are derailed. It may have been impossible to include your parents in the delivery and those first days after birth. Instead of being able to show off, and pass your baby to eager arms, you at best can only lead them to your babys bedside. Instead of greeting your little one, they may hang back in shock and grief. Instead of hearing congratulations and delight, you may hear only sympathy and sorrow.
When your pregnancy does not go as expected, how your parents react can be even more important to you. If what you need does not match up with what they actually do, you may find yourself faced not only with grief about the preterm delivery and all those special "grandparent moments" youve lost, but also about your parents' failure to help you in the ways that you want.
You may be very hurt if your parents fail to form a bond with your baby. You may even have to bear your parents feelings of helplessness, anger and blame. At a time when you need their support most, they may be utterly unable to give it to you. Rather than commiserating, they may be speechless and stunned, or worse yet, provide you with "advice" that does not fit your circumstances.
If you paired the arrival of your baby with the hopes of a reunion with your parents, their response to your situation may instead further alienate you. You may harbor feelings of failure, that you have failed to provide a perfect grandchild to them, or that you are a blighted branch on the family tree. If you had shared a close bond with your parents, this experience might make you (at least temporarily) feel alienated from them.
GRANDPARENTS GRIEVE TOO
Just as parents are faced with losses and adjustments with the birth of a preemie, so too are grandparents. There are a few different types of issues that parents face with grandparents when their babies are born prematurely. The following quotes were chosen to show parents reaction to grandparents understanding and supportor lack thereof. Reading about a wide variety of experiences and responses, you may gain a sense of how normal your reactions are, and how normal your babys grandparents are too.
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