How to Involve the Grandparents and Set Proper Expectations

Joe Rawlinson by Joe Rawlinson - August 25, 2013

I got an email from Sean after he read an article on my site about the difficulty of actually getting out of the house with twins. He said he was thinking about printing it out and giving it to his parents. Sean’s in a difficult situation with his parents. In their expectations, as far as how often they, as the grandparents, should be able to see the twins and how often Sean and his family should be able to get out of the house to go on visits.

Twins with Grandparents

And so, while Sean has tried to explain how difficult it is, it’s really hard to get that across to the grandparents. Although Sean, in this case, you’re absolutely right. Twins are very different than singleton babies, and it is hard for those that haven’t had twins to understand the circumstances that we face as parents with twins, particularly when our twins are very young. In Sean’s case, his twins are still six months old.

How Grandparents Can Help with Twins

Grandparents can be very helpful with twins. It all comes down to how we set expectations with them. The most important thing is that you do talk to your parents, to their twins’ grandparents, about what you expect the grandparents to do. So they can help in many ways. One, of course, is helping with supplies. If they’re able to help lighten your load with diapers or formula or clothing, that would be a great financial relief to you.

Also, grandparents are wonderful for helping with child care. In the newborn days, twins are physically very demanding, and having any help you can get in your home is great. So if your parents can come over and assist with your twins, that’d be a great help for you. Plus, they get time to spend with their new twin grandbabies.

Now, if you have other kids in the house, grandparents are great for spending special time and attention with the other grandkids as well so that you can focus your attention on twins. Or if the grandparents focus on the twins, you can focus your attention on your other children as well.

Twins Call for New Expectations

Parenting twins often requires different methods of parenting than what perhaps your parents are used to. Unless they’ve had twins themselves, the grandparents don’t understand that the rules are broken with twins, and things have to be changed and adapted to the circumstances that you have.

(RELATED: Check out the Dad's Guide to Twins Youtube channel for additional helpful twin tips and tricks videos.)

Now, as far as getting out of the house to go visit the grandparents, it is extremely difficult. And so what this means is that you may plan in advance to go visit your parents, let’s say, on Saturday. But when you get to Saturday, the twins are not on schedule, and things are going crazy, and you’re just not going to make it out of the house.

And so, even though you make plans to visit, those plans may change last minute. It’s OK to talk about that reality with your parents and help set those expectations upfront. Now, if you can’t get out of the house, it’s always great to invite your parents or your in-laws over to see you, that way they get a little glimpse of the reality of life in your house, and they should be able to then give you a break when you’re not able to visit them.

So just keep doing your best. It’s hard to keep everybody happy. But your main focus should be on your wife and your kids, especially in those early months with twins. You can’t please everybody, especially those outside of your immediate family and outside of your home. If you’re balancing the needs of your wife and your kids, you’re doing great.

This question was originally addressed on the Dad’s Guide to Twins Podcast episode 33: Nap Locations, Involving Grandparents, Twin Potty Training Struggles.

Picture by Gareth Saunders

Further Reading

Dad's Guide to Raising Twins book
Don't forget to pick up a copy of the definitive guide to raising twins. "Dad's Guide to Raising Twins" was written for fathers of twins to help guide you through the first several years with twins. Click here to learn more about the book and get your copy.

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