Happily Eva Answers:  Navigating The Grandparents

The following content may contain affiliate links. When you click and shop the links, we receive a commission.


Dear Eva,

When I married my husband, I also gained the most loving and supportive in-laws! They are truly wonderful individuals who feel like another set of parents to me.  Without getting too deep into the family dynamics, since having our daughter my husband’s family has been super involved and attentive to our needs.  They spend 4 months of the year in the same city as us and are very involved in their granddaughter’s day to day life. It’s a blessing and joy…AND it’s beginning to highlight a difference in my own parents’ involvement in our lives. My parents don’t see us as often and are not the hands on type. Unfortunately, I am beginning to sense some hurt feelings from my side of family. They know they are always welcome to visit, but for whatever reason, they are less available and want us to come to them…which is not always easy with a 15 month old.

Now comes the holiday planning …(insert headache and pit in my stomach). In the past we’ve celebrated together as one big happy family which has been wonderful. However, as our daughter grows, travel and accommodations become more complicated and taxing on us. I’m blessed to find myself with in-laws who are willing to go above and beyond to come to us or transform their home into a baby proofed kingdom. On the other hand, my parents are a bit less accommodating to the details and often rely on us to do the heavy lifting and traveling. It’s exhausting. What is a girl to do? As a new mom, I want to ensure that my little family is comfortable, however I still find myself retaining some of my own inner guilt about not being able to make everyone happy, specifically my parents!

I’m wondering how you and other new mommies out there balance life, visits AND the HOLIDAYS with two loving sets of grandparents with different skill sets?!

-  Ms. Navigating The Grandparents

Dear Ms. Navigating The Grandparents,

Ah, yes, negotiating THE HOLIDAYS! Luckily for you, this is a problem that every single family across the Earth has to deal with– so you are in good and plentiful company!  Unluckily for you, there is absolutely no such thing as making everyone happy.  You are kind and generous for wanting to find a way, but the only thing I have ever come across that makes everyone happy is Nutella.  And you, my friend, are not Nutella. 

I want to start by saying how happy I am for you that you have such a strong and positive relationship with your In-laws! This is a gift! Your daughter, as well as your relationship with your husband, will benefit from this– and I think it’s so generous of you Husband’s family to be so attentive to your needs! 100 points!  Now let’s talk about your parents.  However they express it, they are ALSO crazy about you and your daughter.  It goes without saying, but I’m sure to you it doesn’t always feel that way– especially when you have another set of “parents” that are being so much more expressive about their dedication to you.  I’m sure your own parents sense this, and it’s making it even harder for them to navigate their own relationship as Grandparents.  Of course that doesn’t mean that their reaction is right, or easy for you, but my point is that it may be coming from more of an emotional place than a lazy place.  Just something to keep in mind.  That said, let’s be real– there is no way you are going to be schlepping your entire family on a plane every single Holiday Season. 

I myself am starting to get the feeling, as a parent, that there comes a time in a family when your kids are a bit older and you want them to be home– in their own house– for the big Holidays.  There’s something about creating memories in your own living room, your own kitchen, tucking your kids in to their own beds on Christmas Eve– you know, the whole Shebang.  I can sense that not only are there logistical problems with going to your parents’ house for the Holidays, but that you simply want to stay where you are.  I get that! And it seems that your In-laws get that too! Just to share my personal Holiday schedule: We switch off Christmases, every other year, between his family in Charleston, and my family in New York City or Los Angeles.  We usually spend Thanksgiving at home in Los Angeles, just us or whoever can make it. 

So let’s talk solutions:  I think you need to have a conversation with your parents.  It might be awkward, but it’s important to get everyone’s feelings out on the table and for you to express to them, kindly, how challenging it is for you to come and stay with them and how stressed it makes you.  Make sure you mention how important they are to you, and how much you want them to be a large part of your daughter’s life.  Remind them that you would love for them to come spend the holidays with you at your home whenever they can… and then offer them something.  I suggest one Holiday (Thanksgiving or Christmas) every other year at their home.  You and your husband will commit to spending a great holiday with them on their turf, and it will be scheduled in so that everyone knows what is happening ahead of time.  While it’s important to have a harmonious relationship with everyone in your extended family, it is also important that you and your husband are enjoying the milestones of parenting– and your journey as your own family unit. 

I wish you all the best!


Share this post:

Leave a Comment: