Parenting is a challenge, but parenting a teen that is a parent has an additional set of challenges. This can create a stressful living situation. Clear communication and boundaries are critical when there are two generations of parents in the house. Without clear communication and boundary setting, you may feel like you are being taken advantage of, responsibility for the care of the baby gets out of balance, and the necessary bonding between parents and their child can be affected. Try to strike a balance between supporting your teen and caring for your grandchild.
From time to time you will need to step in and care for the baby in order for your teen to go to school, get homework done, go to work, or have time for self-care. These are all excellent ways to be a supportive adult. Often, however, grandparents impose their own parenting ideas and methods on their teen and end up taking the lead and responsibility for parenting. If you are doing everything rather than supporting your teen in figuring out solutions, you are not helping your teen learn how to be a good parent. Often, this ends in resentment for both the grandparent and teen parent – and it confuses the baby as they’re forming necessary attachments.
All parents benefit from parenting classes. It is especially important if you are worried about your teen’s parenting ability. Parenting classes also provide a place for your teen to be surrounded by other new parents. While your teen is in parenting classes, be supportive and compliment them on what they have learned and are trying out. Try not to criticize the new ways of doing things (and gadgets) available today that may not have been there when your teen was a baby.
If you ever feel the baby is unsafe under your teen’s care, seek additional assistance over and above parenting classes. If the health and safety of the baby is at risk, a community social worker, visiting nurse, or other social service worker can help.