During the past eight months I was able to see first hand the major differences between a Chinese and a Finnish grandmother. My mother-in-law stayed in the beginning of the year for three months with us to help with our little baby and right now we live already nearly two months in Germany in my parents apartment. Of course here my own mother is also playing a major role when it comes to take care of Nathan.
During all these months I was able to witness many amusing occurrences my both MIL and my mother. Believe it or not but even though both grandmothers couldn’t be more different they still share many similarities.
How to spend the day
While MIL enjoys sleeping into the day, going to dancing class or shopping during midday and leading her dancing group in the evening my mother handles things a bit different. She wakes up sharp 6 am and starts with all kind of housework. When the main work is done it is time for grocery shopping and preparing lunch for the family. Even though this might sound much it is just about 11am by now and you would guess that her productivity would continue as so much of the day is still ahead but no, after lunch and coffee time nothing happens anymore. She loves to watch German soap opera or other useless things on television and thus spends every work day from 2pm till 10pm in her sofa spot to watch TV. On the one hand you have the bit lazy but still sporty Chinese grandmother and on the other hand you have a very work focused but also a TV addicted Finnish grandma.
What to eat
When it comes to food my mother is very simple. For breakfast a slice of bread and a cup of coffee, for lunch some quickly prepared German or Finnish food and after that either cake or cookies with coffee. There is no real dinner except perhaps another slice of bread as she stops eating after 6pm. This does not sound like a food lover right? You are right! My mother hates to try out new things, salt and pepper are already exotic spices and going out with her to eat is nearly impossible. My dear mother-in-law is the total opposite. Breakfast is mostly some soup, porridge and whatnot bought from the many vendors downstairs. Lunch is yet again either bought at one of the street kitchens or eaten in one of the many restaurants in the area. Dinner is the main part of the day and needs much preparation/ calling friends who wants to go out to eat with her. During night-time the occasional instant noodle pack is prepared or some of the leftovers from the eating battles are warmed up again. Yes, she is a food lover. She just loves to try out new things, nothing is too spicy and eating less than three times a day some warm food is a no go. Sometimes I have the feeling that she spends her entire free time with eating and of course she is not gaining any weight…
How to take care of Nathan
While the one person is overly crazy, wants to carry her grandson non stop and wouldn’t let go, the other person tries to make the child as independent as possible. As so many Chinese grandmas MIL is also totally crazy about her grandson. She would do everything for that little monster (if my wife would let her…). During her three months at our place there were a few fights between her and my wife as she was not allowed to carry the baby around all the time and so on. Here in Germany my mother is the complete opposite. Sure, she enjoys spending time with her grandson and for unknown reasons he has to laugh nearly all the time when he sees her but she also tries that her daughter-in-law is doing most things with the baby. A mix between those two would be perfect!
You probably wonder now how there can be still any similarities between these two different grannies. It is actually very easy as the main similarities is very plain and simple: They can be so annoying! I can’t really say why but my father has the theory that all women after some certain age become just naturally annoying for their children. My wife is already afraid that Nathan will be as annoyed by her later as she is with her mother and my mother…
Even though they can be really annoying we still love them. They are both people who lived completely different lives but they also try to help their children whenever they can. In the end it does not matter where someone comes from, what background they have, or what weird things they do, because as long as they love their family, what can be bad about them?
22 thoughts on “Chinese and Finnish Grandmothers”
First, a question totally off topic: What language do you speak to Nathan? I remember when my friend’s daughter was nearly 3 years old, she could successfully communicate in 3 languages (Chinese with her mom, English with her dad, and a local dialect with her grandmother) and I was always amazed how she could switch from one to another.
I think you father may be on to something. But I think your MIL wants to give your son so much attention because she probably treasures the time she spends with him and even though holding him all the time is doing more harm than good, she probably wants to bond with him. And with a cute face like that, I wouldn’t blame her.
My wife speaks chinese with him, I speak german as well as my father, my wife and I spek together english and my own mother speaks finnish to him: he gets annoyed in four languages 🙂
We know how much MiL loves her grandson but especially in the beginning it was more important that the little one bonded with his mother and partly with me. Too much attention my MIL might have led to some troubles later on when she left back to China. Few friends have it that the grannies where doing everything and they basically only fed the baby, we’ll after three months the grandparents left and no one could calm the babies down anymore because they were so used to their grandparents. I know is is more extrem case but two of our friends had babies at the same time and this exact problem
He gets annoyed in all four languages – LOL!!
Yes, you are right and I completely understand where you are coming from! The first few months are an important bonding time with both parents and it is important time to get into a routine with regards to feeding and I guess how the baby is actually put to sleep (on his or her own or rocked to sleep, etc.)
Exactly 🙂 in the beginning he was even doing great, falling asleep on his own and so on but now…since this summer was already involved with much work for our move we had to disassemble his bed and he started to sleep in between us. Now he is spoiled as hell and I wonder how he will take tit to start sleeping in his own bed again starting next week 😮
You are a better person than I. I could not imagine spending three months with my MIL – despite the fact that she is a lovely woman. Of course I imagine you got to escape to work during that time, but still…
No I was actually the entire time there as I was on fathers leaves…my. Only escape was to go swimming three times a week so I had off time for 6hours a week…
I believe men can handle spending time with their in laws a bit better than women. I mean nothing bad by that my wife would have gone berserk spending three months in our tiny apartment with my mother! At least the men I know (friends of mine) whose in laws came for three months handled it rather well by switching their brains off, I became rather good in it as welll
The ability to switch my brain off – yep, that’s pretty tough. I would say my husband is much more relaxed around my parents than I am with his. I initially attributed it to the fact that my parents are just awesome, but you’re probably right!
Another hilarious post from you, Crazy. “other useless things on television” and “eating battles” 😀 Yes, they do lead very different lives and have their own way of doing things. If they were to live together for a stretch of time, I suppose they will be at loggerheads with one another. I wonder what would happen if they took care of Nathan at the same time…Don’t think they’ll see eye to eye if they were to make a dinner party together 😀
Honestly I don’t even want to imagine them both trying to change nathan nappys :p what a mess, no one would know really what to do but believe they know better than the other…
Oh yes, a dining party would be interesting. My mother would probably trying to make cakes and cold snacks while MIL would prepare dozens of Shaanxi noodle dishes
Yeah, I’m sure it will be a big mess with lots of shouting if your MIL and your mum tried to, say, take Nathan on an outing. Just them together and you and your wife not there to accompany them. They’d be fighting to do things their own way, and go to places that they each want to go…
Dinner party…always the perfect setting for a competition to see who can cook the best and which dish is the most popular. I don’t think you’d want to organise that just yet while setting up your apartment… 🙂
Ha! Annoying in-laws truly seem to a culturally universal trait…
I think your father might be on to something. I suppose at some point the opposite of bonding must occur so the child can learn to be independent. And as far as grandmothers go, I also think there is a generational difference that comes into play when rearing a child. Plus, new mothers probably are inundated with well-meaning advice that drives them bonkers. I know I would be going crazy! But hey, let’s face it, Nathan is lucky to be surrounded by so much love 🙂
Indeed, my wife was really getting frustrated by any given advice in the beginning but now the sea calmed down a bit 🙂
It really seems that the age gap is the biggest reason for these differences. I mean there is already a big age gap between my mother in law (53 years I believe) and my own mother (turning 70 next years!)’ so their views differ already from each other and than our own generations view towards everything. But so far evything worked out rather well 🙂
Some very different styles there, even though there are similarities! Your observations are always so funny. 🙂
I think you’re right thereーas long as they love their family, that’s all that matters. (Although sometimes you can’t help but wish they would do some things a little differently… ^^; I can’t think of a good personal example right now, but I remember thinking this exact thought just the other day!)
I know, sometimes I secretly wish my parents or my parents in law would care a little bit less when it starts once again to get annoying how they want to be part of improving our life :p
Haha, I don’t blame you! Although right now I think my parents are going through a phase where they are busier than I am, and so I’m the one being annoying and wondering what they’re up to and feeling wounded when they don’t answer my Skype calls, haha! The rolls have been reversed. T-T
Finnish grandmas sound very similar to Spanish grandmas! Chinese old ladies are much more active, they go to exercise every day, they can bend backwards and rise their leg up to their head… I wonder how they do it!
Indeed, I really wonder with some elderly chinese how they can stay so active or even flexible. There was this one old man on China Got Talent who started yoga in is 60’s and now in his 70’s he can do a split and whatnot! Just crazy 🙂
one Finnish grandma, please!
your mom reminds me of my mom – she told me once we have a child she will love it and spoil it a bit, but in the end it’s my child and I have to take care of it. honestly speaking I would be a Chinese grandma to Nathan as well – he’s just waaaay too cute 🙂
Seems like European grandmas prefer giving most work to their daughter/ daugher in laws 🙂
Ah well, Nathan gets spoiled enough, somehow I am scared how it will be when we visit China next time..
Love your candid comment about them being annoying! It is so funny what you describe because although we have no children (Le’s sisters’ have several among them) we can just picture what your MIL would be like. Absolutely no disrespect to anyone because we are an inter-racial couple and so speak from experience. And Le’s mum fusses over the grandkids like there is no tomorrow. It can be quite amusing to watch, possibly because they are not our kids.
If we were to have kids, we think our children would be spoilt rotten from both sides because David’s mum is like the Caucasian version of Le’s when it comes to the grandkids. Possibly to the point of “over-the-top” (OTT).
I think my father would spoil his grandson very much as well if my mom wouldn’t be there to stop him always :p
Each family is different but especially asian grandparents seems to able to go totaly crazy when spoiling their grandchildren 😀