When we raised our own children – successfully or not – to maturity, we believed we were finished with worrying. Of course, for most of us, ending worry is about as realistic as ending personal income tax. We still worry about our children, even when they’re responsible grown-ups.
Who would have predicted that with grandchildren, some of us would simply transfer that fretting and worrying to them? Are you a helicopter grandparent, hovering over your grandchildren and panicking over what could happen to them and constantly thinking of ways to protect them from risk?
Our children are doing a great job of raising our grandchildren and, hopefully, we tell them that. They have challenges we never dreamed of when we were in the same position. Now as grandparents, our challenge is finding appropriate ways of supporting them and diminishing the obstacles in their job of child-rearing.
What a difference a generation makes! Our own children walked to and from school on their own and played wherever in the neighborhood with the only proviso that they “be home for dinner” or “before it’s dark.”
Common Conflicts between Parents and Grandparents and How to Handle Them
1. Assume the best. If you’re a parent whose feeling like the grandparents have been stepping on your toes, start by trying to assume that they have the best intentions. Like all of us, they might make mistakes or be unaware of boundaries they’re crossing. Perhaps they feel unsure of what you want or don’t want from them. Let them know how they can be helpful to you. Help them feel included, important and needed.
2. Don’t criticize. The number one rule of thumb for grandparents is, above all, don’t criticize. No one likes to feel judged or blamed, most of us become defensive and angry when criticized, and then we shut down. Think of it this way—who wants to be near someone who is always judging them? Instead of criticism, ask how you can be helpful. Focusing on the positive will do wonders for your relationship.
3. When a boundary has been crossed. Let grandparents know when they have stepped over a line that you’re not comfortable with, such as giving you unsolicited parenting advice. You can say, “I appreciate your expertise. I will definitely ask you if I need help.” Or “I know you may see it differently, but I’d appreciate you following the way I do it on this one.”
*Portions of article reprinted from: https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/grandparents-and-parents-disagreeing-11-tips-for-both-of-you/