Tag Archives: communication

Grandma is a bad influence

Most of us, as parents, slip up and an inappropriate word is said in front of our kids.

Just yesterday, hubby gave me the *wild eyes (which is usually reserved for the kids) when I was playing an online game with my son and I exclaimed, “Dang!” and “Oh crap!


(No, it wasn’t the F bomb – this time!)

Setting proper examples is our job in this parenting gig and we, as parents, often think this example setting umbrella hovers over the grandparents’ interactions with our kids.

Is this a proper expectation of grandparents – to be example setters?

Are we putting too much pressure on grandparents to be parents again?

Why these questions?

Because my kids called me into the family room to watch this segment:

I sure hope that mom wasn’t selling granny out as far as teaching that four-year-old to swear like a pro.

If you find the grandparents setting a poor example for your kids, what should you do? How do you approach them? How do you avoid starting a multigenerational war?

Amy Goyer suggests having the grandchildren be the strong influence and set an example for the grandparents. She says,

Grandparents will stop smoking, swearing or drinking because of grandchildren.  But some grandparents have habits that are so ingrained they aren’t even aware that they affect their grandchildren.

Talk gently with grandparents about the habit or behavior that you feel is a negative influence on the children and explain why you feel it is.

Remember that these habits have usually been around a long time and may be hard to break. Be supportive, not confrontational. Acknowledge first that you know they love their grandchildren and would never do anything intentionally to hurt them, but alert them that you think some of their habits may have unintended consequences for the children. Also remember that you, as parents, have the most influence over your kids. Some idiosyncrasies may be unpleasant, but children will not necessarily pick up the bad habits of their grandparents — or aunts, uncles, cousins or any other family member. My grandfather cussed every other word, but I have never once heard my dad or mom swear. We loved our grandfather and giggled when he swore, but my sisters and I didn’t grow up swearing like he did. My dad and mom had much more influence.

Have you had to talk with the grandparents about being a bad influence (in some area) on your kids?

How did you approach them?

What was the outcome (or fallout)?

*wild eyes = the term my 13-year-old uses to refer to her dad giving THAT look


Email drama {Ask Kanesha}

Hey IAFN Readers!

I’ve  been away a bit due to some presentations, new clients, travel, and all the other life stuff that shows up.

I started a new Ask Kanesha feature and piloted it in a few circles.

The point of Ask Kanesha (yes, like Dear Abby) is to provide a space and place for  multigenerational/intergenerational and in-law dynamic questions and issues to land and be taken up.

I’m hoping to post responses at the start and end of the week. (We shall see.)


Today’s question:

My mother-in-law is a good person but she has a very odd way of communicating. She asks a lot of questions but you can’t do the same with her. It’s annoying because this is so one sided and very immature (in my opinion). So – she and I are at odds right now because I asked her about travel plans and she clammed up on me. Then she sends me these weird, hostile, and childish texts and email messages about how I should stay in my own business and not pry. I’m frustrated and mad – how should I proceed?

-Tired of this dumb sh*t


Dear Tired of this dumb sh*t,

It sounds like your mother-in-law is challenged by open communication. I’m not sure what you asked, in regards to the travel, but based on the information you provided, your mother-in-law may feel judged or under the microscope based on you asking her questions.

When in-law dynamics and intergenerational communication styles are in play, there can be an unsaid tussle as to who has the upper hand in the discussion. Due to social media, many people from younger generations are more comfortable with open discussions and saying any and everything that has to be said. Since younger generations are also used to talk shows (aka the Oprah effect) – they want to have conversations on the spot without missing the opportunity.

Some people from older generations are challenged by this because their mental transitions and values about respect for elders guide their communication style. Even though you (“Tired”) are an adult, your mother-in-law may be evoking the old adage that children are to be seen and not heard. She may also be nervous about upcoming travel plans and discussing the travel with you stirs this up.

You are wise not to respond via text or email. Dave Johnson provides some email dos and don’ts for the workplace. These can be easily applied to the situation you are currently experiencing with your mother-in-law.

I also suggest the following:

  • Send a short response back to your mother-in-law inviting her to talk with you face-to-face. Keep the response short and to the point.
  • Let her know how much time you have to meet with her. This will help to contain any mental “blowing up” of the situation.
  • Ask your mother-in-law where she would like to meet for your discussion. Having a neutral meeting place should keep the discussion on even ground.
  • Be prepared for your mother-in-law to say yes or no to the meeting.
  • If you are unable to meet, let it go. You do not need to get into a power struggle with your mother-in-law about her inability to communicate.

If you have experienced a similar situation, let us know how you handled it. Please leave your comment below.

 Learn more about Kanesha’s coaching services and programs.

Kanesha Baynard Coaching, LLC.
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Kanesha Baynard has responded to this submission to the best of her abilities. However, she makes no representation or warranties as to the accuracy, applicability, or completeness of this response. Kanesha Baynard disclaims any warranties (expressed or implied), merchantability, or appropriateness for a specific purpose. Kanesha Baynard, under no circumstances, shall be held liable for any loss or other damages of any kind. As always, please seek the advice of a competent legal, tax, accounting, medical, or other professional. Kanesha Baynard does not warrant the performance, effectiveness or applicability of any sites or resources listed in this response. All links are for informational purposes only and are not warranted for content, accuracy or any other implied or explicit purpose.

37 things you want to ask your in-laws, but can’t… (or won’t)

Hey! Busy time of year – so thanks for stopping back to read.

Spending the past weekend with my mother-in-law and father-in-law has been fun, wacky, energizing, energy sapping, and sweet.

Yes, it was all over the place.

I did a lot of journaling and I came up with a list of questions I wanted to ask – but won’t – because some of the answers are not my business (even though I’m nosey and curious as hell!).

The other reasons I won’t ask are because some of the information/responses would be trivial, it won’t improve our relationship, it won’t right the past, and it won’t move us to the next productive phase in our relationship.

Even though I’m clear on this right now – I can’t say temptation and curiosity won’t get the best of me (especially after some super festive eggnog).

Put in the right mood,  I just might engage my in-laws (separately) with some of these questions.

Below is my list of questions – intermingled with some questions from my curious friends and colleagues – that I would want to pose to my in-laws.

  1. Which grandkids do you like the best?
  2. Why do you refuse to get a mammogram?
  3. Why won’t you use lotion?
  4. Why do you wear that fugly Christmas sweater every year?
  5. Why don’t you pick up your feet when you walk?
  6. Why didn’t you teach your son how to clean up? I’m not his maid!
  7. Why are you all up in our business?
  8. Why do you compete with me?
  9. Why do you compete with the other grandmother/grandfather (my parents)?
  10. Why did you abandon your child – not once -but twice?
  11. Why are you a hoarder?
  12. Why do you refuse the help I offer to you?
  13. Why do you talk to my wife/husband like he/she is a small child?
  14. Did you ever discuss, with “any” of your offspring, the need for moral values or good character?
  15. Why didn’t you talk to your son/daughter about the birds and the bees?
  16. Why do you act like your shit doesn’t stink?
  17. Why do you show up at my house uninvited?
  18. Why do you like me?
  19. Why do you shut down when I’m trying to have a serious conversation to you?
  20. Do you love me for me or just love me because your son/daughter loves me?
  21. Why are you in denial? Yes, I have sex with your son/daughter – we’re married!
  22. Why do you think you’re the boss of my family?
  23. Why won’t you use your cane/walker when you know you need it?
  24. Am I the only one who sees how manipulative my brother-in-law/sister-in-law is?
  25. Why are you stuck in the past? Join us in the present!
  26. Why are you trying to impress me? Just be yourself.
  27. Why do you pretend you were an involved parent when your son/daughter was growing up?
  28. Why do you feel the need to monitor and point out my weight gain?
  29. Why do you continue to fight your son’s/daughter’s battles?
  30. How do you really feel about your son/daughter marrying an American?
  31. Did you ever smoke marijuana? If so, how about having some now.
  32. Why are you in denial about the strained relationship between (a) you and me (b) your son/daughter and you?
  33. How do you feel about your son/daughter being in an interracial marriage?
  34. Why do you eat so loudly?
  35. Why do you openly compare me to your son’s/daughter’s first wife/husband?
  36. Why do you keep pictures up of your son’s/daughter’s first wife/husband (ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend)?
  37. Why are you so mean and cranky?
  38. Why has made you stay married? (added 12.19.11 at 10:32 pm)

What questions would you add to this list?



Name calling

About two years ago, I got a big fat promotion. I became a grandmommy. Yup, that’s right, a grandmommy!

Ok, here’s the backstory…

When my little guy started to talk, it was very difficult for people, outside our multigenerational home to understand the difference between grandma and mama when my son spoke. Of course my mother-in-law and I clearly knew which of us he was calling on.

Sometimes when my little guy was out and about with my mother-in-law, people often wanted to know when my mother-in-law had adopted him – since, based on their ears, he was calling her “mama”. My mother-in-law was a good sport and explained my son was saying grandma, that he wasn’t adopted, and she had no plans to start over raising children (full-time) at this stage in her life. One woman even asked from what country my mother-in-law had adopted my son – which is a topic for an entirely different post.

Now that my son is four-years-old, he pronounces most works clearly, and people can easily understand him…which brings me to my grandmommy status.

Since my mother-in-law is the primary childcare caregiver for my son, while hubby and I are working, he is calling on his grandmother a lot. With this, he often calls me grandmommy – and I adore it.

When this name calling began, my mother-in-law asked me if this bothered me. No, it didn’t bother me, and I was happy that she considered this. When living in a multigenerational home, members have to be careful to set-up unnecessary or unhealthy competitions. An example of this could be a young child reaching for or requesting the attention of a grandparent instead of an actual parent. Or when the child is hurt, he/she prefers a cuddle from a grandparents instead of a parent.

Our multigenerational family has been fortunate not to have these types of competitive flare-ups because I believe there is enough – love, attention, hugs, names, etc. – to go around.

If your multigenerational family is experiencing any tension in this area, it is important to address it.


Here are some easy steps to gets started:

  1. Each member of the multigenerational family should make a list of the “competitive” topics that is bothering him/her.
  2. Each topic should be written on an individual notecard and folded in half.
  3. All folded notecards should be thrown into a bowl.
  4. Norms for discussing difficult topics should be developed and posted in the area where the conversation will take place.
  5. A time and day should be selected for the “competitive” discussion – I recommend one hour.
  6. During the discussion – only one topic is selected from the bowl.
  7. The first 30 minutes is used for each person to talk about their feelings, with “I statements”, on the topic.
  8. The next 15 minutes should be used to generate possible solutions. This is not the time for any family member to explain and/or defend themselves – that’s not the point of the exercise.
  9. The next 10 minutes should be used to select one solution that will be completed that day – one solution that will be completed in a week – and one solution that will be completed in a month.
  10. The last 5 minutes are for hugs and kind words – so everyone leaves the meeting feeling safe, loved, whole and inspired.

If these steps are too challenging or intimidating, it is a good idea to hire a coach to guide your multigenerational family through the process.

As my mother-in-law and I discussed this grandmommy term further, I told my mother-in-law I wanted a superhero cape that had grandmommy on it because that’s how people look at me when I tell them I live with my mother-in-law and the two of us actually get along. She laughed and said maybe she would make said cape for me.

Stay tuned…

How does your family handle conflict and tension around family competition?

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Text message shorthand

I’m always emphasizing the need for effective communication in our multigenerational home. Texting is one mode of communication for us, and it has its ups and downs.

I have had some hilarious texting exchanges with my daughter and mother-in-law. They both like to make up their own shortcuts and abbreviations that seem to make sense to only them. I’m often confused and have to chuckle at their creations.


Geo = George as in Curious George

BRI = Be right in

TAB = Thanks a bunch

ITR = Is that right?

MDT = Meltdown today

I was laughing so hard, today, when I came across Pamela Cytrynbaum’s article Finally, Texting for Midlifers. I enjoyed the humor and truth when Pamela described the younger generation’s Morse code in texting.

I, myself, feel caught in the foreign texting land of a milienial (my twelve-year-old) and a boomer. It can be confusing, especially when I’m in a rush and trying to get pertinent information from my daughter and mother-in-law.

Pamela’s list of super secret midlife texting codes was hilarious and here are my favorites:

ATD – at the doctor

BFF – best friend fell

DWHTC – didn’t we have this conversation?

FWMKW – forgot where my keys were

GGGIR – gotta go, grandkids in room

(G)KOS – (grand)kids over shoulder

MTL – movie too loud

RML – remind me later

RMLA – remind me later, again

SDA – senior discount alert

SSM – sorry, senior moment

TTFN – too tired for now

WDSS – what did she say

WDYS – what did you say

WTWFI – what’s the word for it

Here are some texting codes I made up that would be fitting to our multigenerational family:

GTTS = going to the store

ISTTYVE = I sent that to you via email

ITACFT = is there a coupon for that

LFDA = late for dinner again

NANN = need a nap now

OCDD = on computer, don’t disturb

MLR = multigenerational living rocks

PLT = piano lessons today

SAFSP = set alarm for school pick-up

TSGH = tween sleepover, go hide

WTGL = where’s the grocery list

Do you have any special texting codes for your family?

p.s. I’m sure some of you are wondering how hubby fits into this texting matrix. Well, as a scientist, he is challenged by simple technologies so we leave him out of it. Yup, I’m totally serious.

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Communication + Humor = Awareness for the future

When you live in a multigenerational household, having a good sense of humor is a must! I think effective communication is equally important as the humor.

So yes, I did put that important note on our refrigerator, on Hello Kitty paper no less.

Because I spend so much time in my work life listening, organizing, directing, creating, and counseling – those skills have a way of creeping into my family life. I can honestly say I have good communication skills (and this is feedback I’ve received), but I still have a long way to go; I can do better.

When our multigenerational family is well functioning, everyone is contributing, we all feel honored, and our communication and humor are in perfect balance. We grow and thrive, which makes love flow easily.

When we hit our patches of dysfunction, humor is low, communication is disjointed, and we are all struggle to piece things back together. This is the time when one of us (including the three-year-old) calls our attention to our less than happy state. The “calling out” usually happens at the dinner table.

As I look ahead to 2011, I’m reflecting on 2010 with an honest lens. I’m looking at ways I can be more aware, present, mindful and nurturing of how I fit into our multigenerational family. I’m not setting any resolutions on how to be better at this, but I am taking *Sarah Susanka’s lead by going through a year-end review.

Susanka describes the year-end review as, “…an annual tune-up, when we bring awareness to our lives.  The key is to make this an enjoyable process during witch the faucet can flow…”

-Whole Living, December 2010

I will invite my family members to conduct their own year-end review based on a structure that works for them and honors the ways they communicate with themselves.

In the next few days, I plan to make a journal for everyone (repurposing project for my 2010 calendar), and provide Susanka’s guiding questions as prompts.

Happy New Year!

*My mother-in-law turned me on to Susanka’s book, The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters, about a year ago.