Q: As a new grandmother, I am excited to play an active and positive role in my grandchild’s life but I also want to be careful about respecting appropriate boundaries with my son and daughter-in-law. Do you have any suggestions?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: Congratulations on becoming a grandparent. Grandparents can have a significant impact on the lives of their children and grandchildren, and your wealth of experience from raising your own children can add valuable perspective.

For your son and his wife, who are navigating the challenges of being first-time parents, the constant responsibilities can become overwhelming.

As a loving grandmother, offering the gift of time can be an invaluable contribution.

Instead of a general offer, consider proposing specific days when you can be present to help with the child, allowing them precious time off.

Additionally, reassure them that they can reach out whenever they feel the need for a break, creating an open line of communication.

Approaching the topic of giving advice requires careful consideration, especially when dealing with your daughter-in-law.

While differing opinions on parenting may arise, placing utmost respect on their decisions is crucial. Your role primarily involves abiding by their choices and offering advice only when sought, with the exception being situations where a parent’s actions pose harm to the child.

Emphasise the importance of building a relationship based on understanding and collaboration. Share the positive aspects of your parenting experience, fostering a connection that encourages open communication and mutual support. This will not only strengthen family bonds but also contribute positively to the well-being of the new parents and their child.

Q: My husband was a smoker for most of his life. Although he quit a few years ago, I recently found out that he has resumed smoking and has been keeping it a secret for months. I am upset about this but I want to be supportive of my husband. What should I do?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: You may be experiencing a range of emotions, so take a moment to understand and process your feelings.

It is understandable if you feel frustrated that your husband has returned to his old habit and is struggling to quit, and hiding this from you is naturally upsetting.

While trust may not be completely shattered, it has undoubtedly suffered some erosion, and your focus should be on repairing it.

Initiate an honest conversation with your husband. Reassure him of your love, respect and confidence in his ability to overcome this challenge, aiming to alleviate any shame that may have contributed to his decision to conceal the relapse.

Encourage him to share his story – whether stress at work or home triggered the urge to smoke – and explore why he felt unable to be honest about his struggles with you. Understanding these aspects will help you address the root causes.

Rather than making smoking the primary issue, emphasise the importance of trust in your relationship.

Make it clear that for trust to exist, he needs to feel comfortable confiding in you.

Inquire about any obstacles to open communication and discuss how to remove them.

Approaching the situation with empathy, understanding and a focus on rebuilding trust can pave the way for a constructive and supportive conversation with your husband.

This article is contributed by Focus on the Family Malaysia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and strengthening the family unit. It provides a myriad of programmes and resources, including professional counselling services, to the community. For more information, visit family.org.my. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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