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Insight from our expert

Insight from our expert
© JD Lorieux

Edwige Antier is a top pediatrician and is a specialist on the subject of bringing up children.

Why is a grandmother's role in a child's upbringing so important? 
Only a grandmother can make a child understand his lineage and where he or she came from: that he or she is mum's baby just as mum was gran's baby, etc etc. Unconsciously, the child becomes aware of his identity, how life works, and where he or she came from. And if the parents ever separate, which is so common nowadays, the grandmother can play a crucial role in ensuring her grandchildren have a stable family life, especially if she can still get on well with both parents.

What shouldn't a grandmother do?
She shouldn't criticize or try and interfere with the upbringing you give your children or your lifestyle. A grandmother should never give lessons - educational or moral. People are often afraid of grandmothers abusing their power and trying to act as if they're the mother, but it's far more common to meet children who are suffering from a lack of contact with their grandmother than ones who are suffering from too much contact!    

What happens between a mother and daughter when they become grandmother and mother?
It completely changes their relationship. The birth of a grandchild brings back the grandmother's own youth. If relations are strained, you can find they improve dramatically. If mother and daughter are estranged, the new mum is at a greater risk of depression and it's a good time to make your peace. The baby will recognize his or her maternal grandmother's voice.

What's the difference between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law?
When a family comes to see me, I can tell straight away if a grandmother is the mother's mother or mother-in-law. Mothers-in-law generally find it strange to see their son as a new father, and it takes a lot of getting used to, especially because the older generation are often very traditional. But the monster-in-law stereotype doesn't really apply. I meet many daughters and mothers-in-law who have very good relationships with each other!


Sarah Horrocks
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