Grandparenting Guidelines

 a special feature from Leslie Zinberg & Kay Ziplow, founders of

Attention all GRANDparents(!), while we have previously talked about the ‘laws of grandparenting’, we think it’s just fine to touch on this topic again. Being a grandparent is indeed the best role we get to do. But — we have to remember that our grandkids are just that — ‘grandkids’. They are not OUR KIDS. They are our adult children’s children. We no longer get to rule the roost. Okay, so how do we do that, and keep ourselves out of hot water??

  • Zip your mouth. This is often difficult to do. If your advice is solicited, then certainly offer your thoughts. However, be careful. Tiptoe through your opinions.
  • Again, remember this, your grandchild is not your child. Abide by the parents’ do’s and don’ts. Child rearing changes from generation to generation. We know what we did and how we raised our kids, but their way may be quite different.
  • Accept your role. If you’re the parent of a son, you may not have the same access to your grandchildren as the maternal grandparents. Often times, daughters rely heavily on their mothers, especially in the beginning. Hang in. There’s plenty of love and babysitting to go around, and the grandkids will love all their grandparents.
  • Be mindful of what you’re watching on TV when the grandkids are around. The news can be daunting. A television show can be inappropriate. Save your watching for later, after the kids have gone home.
  • Do not buy their love. Quality time is much more important. Read together, bake together, play a game together. Go to the park, a local concert, a museum. Make memories.
  • Car seats and car safety are non-negotiable.
  • Give the kids healthy food. They may eat gluten free or nut free, be vegan or vegetarian. Stay with their program. And watch the sweets!
  • Pay attention to bedtime times, rituals, and routines.
  • This is a hard one. Let go of expectations. You plan to show up at every event but you are not always invited, you think you will have Sunday dinner together every week but that is not happening, you think you will all live in the same city forever but your kids move away. You don’t always get what you want or what you think should be. Make the best of each situation. For example, if your kids and grandkids live in a different city, Skype or Facetime on a regular basis, visit often, offer to babysit while the parents take a vacation.
  • Take care of you. Make sure you have a life. It’s not good for you to depend on your kids and grandkids and become totally involved in their lives. It’s your time too. Have some grown-up fun!