"To Grandmother's house we go" has a whole different meaning when a grandchild wets
the bed, especially on extended visits during the holidays. And no one knows this
more than Debbie Wolfe and her five-year-old son, Cole.
"I started by buying the GoodNites® [Underpants], which I have to say are about
the best thing, and I wish they had these when I was younger," says Wolfe, who,
along with her husband, also wet the bed as a child. "This was OK, but if Cole stayed
with the grandparents and we forgot them, he would have an accident."
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, approximately
15 percent of children wet the bed after age 3, and bedwetting typically stops by
puberty. Though bedwetting is so common among children, the situation is sometimes
one that grandparents find difficult to understand. They may believe bedwetting
is a serious medical problem or that the parents should be doing something more
to stop it. But with a little communication, a child's grandparents can lend their
help and, most importantly, support.
"Communication between the parents and grandparents is very important," says Amy
Goyer, coordinator of the AARP's Grandparent Information Center. "It can help to
show the grandparents information or printed material about bedwetting to help them
understand. This can be very effective because grandparents tend to respect information
Goyer says parents of bedwetters often confuse their own parents' sincerity with
interference, which can cause unnecessary friction between the two groups. She stresses
open conversation and education as avenues to avoid conflict.
"Don't just assume that the grandparents don't understand," she says. "Most likely
they are showing so much concern because they love their grandchild. They usually
just don't meddle to meddle. Parents (of bedwetters) should take a patient approach
to discussing the topic with their parents and exchange information that they all
may have learned about bedwetting."
Grandparents often have more free time to research the topic on the Internet or
at the library, Goyer notes. She suggests using their willingness to help instead
of feeling as if they are trying to take over the situation. "Grandparents can be
very helpful," she says. "However, they should know to pass on the information they
have found and let go. Allow the parents to take control and handle things."
GoodNites® a Good Start
As a former bedwetter, Wolfe understands her son's experience with bedwetting. "I
remember the way I would feel when I was going to stay overnight somewhere, fearing
that going to sleep was going to be an embarrassment," she says. "I decided that
I was going to try anything to help my son stop (wetting)."
At home, Wolfe and her son have devised a successful system that incorporates GoodNites®
[Underpants] and nightly wake-ups to prevent accidents. "It got to the point that
he actually would get up in the early morning, change his underwear and put a towel
on his bed so he didn't have to wake me," she says. "This was a lot to do with him
only being 4 at the time, so I finally started getting him up two or more times
This has proved successful for Wolfe. "As long as I do this, he stays dry overnight,"
she says. "He is getting heavier and harder to carry, but it is worth it to have
him tell me in the morning, ‘Mommy, I didn't pee the bed today!' He is so proud
to tell me this. He never remembers that I get him up, so I really don't make that
an issue. I just let him know how proud I am that he stayed dry the whole night."
Home for the Holidays
Wolfe takes special precautions for overnighters at Cole's grandparents' house.
"When Cole is staying with my parents, I just make sure to have my mom stop his
drinks at about 7 p.m. and then make sure he goes to the bathroom before bed," she
says. "I do tell my mom to wake him in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom
just to be sure he doesn't have an accident. This has been working so well that
there are days we can even skip taking him during his sleep and he is accident-free
by the morning."
Success stories like Wolfe's can be difficult to achieve during seasonal travel.
To make the situation less stressful for all involved, Goyer suggests pre-visit
consultations with grandparents or family to make arrangements.
"First of all, preparation ahead of time is important," she says. "Don't wait until
you show up on the grandparents' doorstep to talk about it. Send them some information
about bedwetting if they aren't already familiar, and show them that this is the
way you are handling it. If you don't talk about it first, then Grandma will be
changing the child's bed sheets in the morning and she will most likely become concerned.
Always communicate ahead of time and discuss the bedwetting at length before the
Good advice before heading "over the river and through the wood" this holiday season.