Each generation hopefully learns from the past when it comes to parenting and is able to establish boundaries to keep their children healthy and safe. Sometimes, that means being tough with grandparents who feel they are automatically entitled to a relationship with their grandchildren even if they display toxic behaviors towards them.
Lisa Pontius is a mom of three and a TikToker who has spoken about boundaries using her social media influence. In one of her viral videos, Lisa challenges the idea that “boundaries” is a bad word and articulates how she uses boundaries to help her children:
“My parents see my kids. My parents see my kids actually kind of a lot; they live pretty close to us. I still have boundaries with my parents in regard to my children. They still have boundaries with me over when and how often and how much they’re going to watch said grandchildren. We each acknowledge and respect each other’s boundaries. That’s how you have a mutually respectful, adult relationship,” she said.
BuzzFeed spoke to Lisa about her philosophy: “I have always been interested in interpersonal relationships and family structures. I was an anthropology major in college and just always found observing these things fascinating. When I started sharing my life on social media, I included a lot of commentary on motherhood – including the very common struggle with navigating in-law relationships as a new mom.”
“Being undermined by a third party (even if it’s a seemingly well-intentioned grandparent) can cause a lot of strife. The parent ends up feeling completely disrespected. The parent needs to let it be known in a direct way that their parenting decisions are to be respected and honored if the grandparents want to participate.”
“Firstly, there are no secrets allowed between a caregiver and my children. If a grandparent says, ‘Don’t tell mom’ – I personally would no longer trust that person. The same goes for disclosing accidents or incidents that may occur in their care. I’m either getting the whole truth of what’s happening with my children or I can’t trust you with them. Open communication and honesty is crucial,” she added.
“Again, all this comes down to respect. You either respect the parents of your grandchildren to make the best decisions for their family and raise their own kids, or you don’t. There are plenty of parenting choices that may not be agreed upon, but, at the end of the day, barring anything unhealthy or unsafe, a grandparent should respect a parent’s right to raise their children in their way.”
Another TikTok mom who speaks about boundaries frequently is Princess Audia Reggie, a therapist.
“This is a message to all the entitled grandparents out there: Having a relationship with your grandchildren is a privilege. It is not a right,” she said in one of her videos.
Princess, who has a master’s degree in clinical psychology, marital and family therapy, told BuzzFeed that she is “passionate about helping my clients identify and disrupt unhealthy patterns of behavior and communication that are often passed from parent to child through unhealthy parenting practices.”
Princess said communication is key. “Boundaries operate best in three ways. The first is to articulate the boundary out loud to others. It’s a mistake to assume people can read your mind, so be sure to speak your boundaries out loud. Second, all boundaries must have consequences. Before speaking about your boundaries out loud, have a conversation with yourself and others, such as your partner, about what the consequences for overstepped boundaries will be. This must be a collaborative effort because it will require that you and your partner are on board with the consequences as well. And third, when boundaries are overstepped or ignored, the consequences need to be put into action by the primary caregivers.”
“What many have been socialized to believe are ‘cultural differences’ in parenting practices are [actually] unhealthy and abusive patterns of behavior and communication that are passed from one generation to the next through parenting practices. Two examples of this are spanking and emotional neglect. A few ways to address abusive generational patterns are through therapy, parenting education, improving communication skills, and implementing healthy boundaries.”
“Therapy is a great tool to explore when parenting because it can help you identify unhealthy patterns of behavior and communication that were normalized, tools to help cope with parenting-related stressors, and to identify triggers brought on by parenting experiences and challenges,” she explained.
Featured Image: TikTok