Parenting--Toddlers/Infants/Pre-Schoolers/4 month old grandson not napping


Hi James, Iíve asked you several questions over the past 5 or so years and always appreciate your advice, even when you tell me Iím contributing to my problem. This time, itís concerning my 4 month old grandson who lives in my house with his single mom, my 21 year old daughter. Sheís filed for divorce from her drug addicted husband who is not around at all. My relationship with her was very strained and volatile during her adolescence due to my control issues and her mental health issues. We have worked together since then and now enjoy a more peaceful relationship. However, Iím finding that I have some resentment over the fact that Iím essentially co-parenting with no power to make decisions. A recent conversation went like thisÖ Her: I wonder why heís not rolling over like so-and-soís baby Me: All babies develop at different stages, heíll get there Her: But that baby is almost a month younger! Me: Well, maybe more tummy time would help (my grandson is exclusively breastfed and usually in her arms, in the swing, or in an infant carrier) Her: What you said hurts my feelings, like you think Iím a bad mom Me: I donít think that at all, it just makes sense that he needs to build those muscles before he can roll over.// I have taken responsibility for the mistakes I made as a parent and it hurts to hear, ďI canít believe you let us cry ourselves to sleep/fed us cereal/didnít breastfeed us longer than 1 month/let us sleep on our stomachs/married our dad!Ē because those are things I carry some guilt about even though I was doing the best I could at the time. So thereís some background. The current struggle is sleeping. During the day he only cat naps while lying on her after nursing and sleeps at night swaddled and in a swing. Iíd estimate he gets 2 or 3 10-15 minute cat naps and 1 longer nap (under an hour) swaddled and in the swing during the day. At night he sleeps from about 10pm-6am, is fed and swaddled, and then back into the swing where he sleeps until about 9am. If you tell me, ďthatís fineÖ let him be, he wonít be sleeping in that swing when heís in high school,Ē Iíll stop worrying about it. If you think itís best that he not sleep in the swing, then Iíd like your advice on how to discuss it with my daughter as well as tips on transitioning to his crib.

Hello Barbara,
 There's no question that living with your daughter and grandson is a difficult situation for you -- and your daughter. There's perhaps no good way to handle things.
 I can certainly understand your frustration. You are a co-parent without authority or control. And what have you have learned from your experience as a parent isn't valued. And on your daughter's part, she is like many young parents: insecure and sensitive to criticism -- even implied criticism.
 I suggest that you not give advice (even the gentle, supportive suggestion you gave in your example in the email) because it won't be appreciated. Therefore, as in your example, you should stop with: "All children develop at different ages." It would be better if she asked for advice. If she doesn't, then you have to accept that -- despite the difficulties that that entails for you.
 I personally don't think he should be sleeping in a swing long term. But, on the other hand, I don't know of any research that would say that sleeping in a swing will cause problems in the future. At some point, he should be transitioned to a crib, just because most children sleep in cribs before beds and because it might lead to longer naps. But I don't think your daughter wants you to tell her she should be having him sleep in a crib. Again, I think you need to wait until she asks for advice. And even then I think you need to be cautious about giving it as she is likely to be defensive about advice and suggestions. One possible way of handling things is to have her ask me questions here so that advice comes from me -- not from you. She could probably handle things better from an anonymous authority rather than her own mother (unfortunately).

Best wishes,



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James Windell


I can answer questions related to normal child development, disturbed behavior and how to provide appropriate guidance and discipline.


I've been a clinical psychologist in a juvenile court, worked in school settings, been a child psychotherapist in a private psychiatric clinic and consulted with schools, courts, hospitals and daycare centers.

American Psychological Association
Michigan Psychological Association

I have been a columnist with the Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI) for 21 years writing a weekly column called Coping With Kids, which is also published weekly in the Staten Island Advance. I have been a mental health columnist with the Detroit Free Press and a columnist for Working Mother Magazine. In addition, I have published articles in professional journals. I have published 16 books, among them are "8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child" (IDG Books), "Discipline: A Sourcebook of 50 Failsafe Techniques for Parents" (IDG Books); "Children Who Say No When You Want Them to Say Yes" (IDG Books), "What You Need to Know About Ritalin" (Bantam Books) "6 Steps to an Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers" (John Wiley & Sons), "The Fatherstyle Advantage" (Stewart, Tabori & Chang) and "Defusing High Conflict Divorce" (Impact Publishers). My latest parenting book (2012) is "The Everything Child Psychology and Development Book." Articles about my work with parents has appeared in the New York Times, the Chicago Sun Times, the Detroit News and the Detroit Free Press. My website at includes more information about me, my books and includes many columns I've written.

B.A. in Psychology from Wayne State University
M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Oakland University

Awards and Honors
Best Educational Program by Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association (National award for the development of a parent training program for parents of delinquent teenagers. Beth Clark Service Award from the Michigan Psychological Association.

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