You think your toddler isn’t quite ready to start potty-training, but Grandma insists on putting her in training pants and sitting her on the potty every 20 minutes. Grandma watches her while you work, so she probably has some say in the child-rearing process, right?
When parents work full-time, it’s not uncommon for a trusted family member – maybe even your partner – to become your child’s caregiver during your workday. In fact, it can be a much more affordable option than daycare or a nanny.
But what happens when you don’t agree on critical points, like what to feed your toddler or how her daily routine should play out? These situations can be tricky to work through, especially when loved ones are involved. Here are a few tips for sorting things out and getting everyone on the same page.
Listen to their opinions respectfully.
You might feel like automatically shutting down another opinion when it’s different than yours, especially when it relates to how you raise your child. But remember that your loved one’s opinion is coming from a place of love, caring, and good intentions, just like yours.
You may not agree, but you can still lend a listening ear. It’s possible that the other caregiver raises a point you hadn’t considered or does have some useful information to share with you. Listening actively and calmly can also help you respond thoughtfully rather than defensively.
Don’t shy away from voicing your concerns and opinions.
You’ve listened to your loved one, but you still stand firm in your opinion. That’s 100% okay, and you shouldn’t feel bad for it. Be open with your feelings. Pushing them away to appease the other person is only going to make you feel resentful and frustrated.
As a parent, you don’t necessarily need to defend your opinions regarding your child. However, it could help to explain to the other person why you feel the way you do, just to put everything into context. For example, if there was a situation that changed your way of thinking, explaining what happened could help your loved one understand your point of view.
Ask the experts.
You know your child better than anyone else, but your child’s pediatrician also knows child development! If you and your child’s caregiver come to a standstill about child-rearing, it might help to consult her pediatrician (a chat with a speech, occupational, or another type of therapist your little one visits can also come in handy, depending on the situation). A pediatrician can give valuable insight into feeding, potty-training, socializing, exercising, and anything else that shapes your child’s development.
Ensure that your child’s safety always comes first.
No matter what anyone’s opinion is, the safety of your child should take priority. If you’re ever concerned about your child’s safety when in the care of someone else, you should address it with that person promptly. If it’s clear that the issue isn’t going to get corrected, you should remove your child from that situation immediately.
Develop a caregiving plan together.
You and the other caregiver can work together to create a caregiving plan that’s in the best interest of your child. This is an important step you can take before your child goes into someone else’s care to avoid any potential issues later, and you can revise it as your child’s needs change.
Outline priority points in the plan, such as napping, screen time, mealtime, potty-training, and discipline. You both can sign it and have your own copies to refer to at any time to ensure consistency in caring for your child.
Working together with your child’s caregiver not only makes it easier for you to trust that she’s in good hands, but it can also make your child feel loved and secure from both sides.