The Involved Grandparent

Nov 3, 2019 | Experts Corner

The Involved Grandparent
Grandparents have a role in the lives of their grandchildren, but what exactly is that role? Let your adult children take the lead and discuss your expectations with them.

Becoming a grandparent changes everything. Coupled with incomparable joy is uncertainty about where you fit in. Your role — not always appreciated by society — is vitally important in shaping a grandchild’s life.  At the end of the day, you and the parents want what’s best for the child. But, as you may discover you don’t always share the same ideology, and you must take a step back and understand that you’ve entered their world, sometimes feeling like a foreign ambassador.  And, what you may really need is a handbook for diplomacy!

Remember Who Is In Charge
Grandparents must remember that their grown children are the ones responsible for raising the grandkids. “There’s a fine line between showing your interest, being involved, expressing your wishes and needs, and being just plain overbearing,” says Susan V. Bosak, national chairwoman of the Legacy Project in Washington, D.C., which has online resources for grandparents, parents, and kids. She also conducts Grandparent Connection workshops. “There are bound to be things you’d do differently, but accept parents’ decisions with a smile and grace.”

Tap In to Your Past
Remember your relationship with your parents and in-laws when you were a young parent? Those experiences provided lessons that can influence your grandparenting style for better or for worse. Maybe your mother had a habit of giving your child treats after you had said “no,” and you’ve vowed that you will never challenge your daughter’s authority in front of your grandchild. Smart decision. But what if your parents surprised your child with his first bike, and you do the same without knowing that your son thinks his child is too young for a bike? Ask questions first, before you assume that what you want for your grandchild is what his parents want.

Similarly, your relationship with your grandparents is likely to have been vastly different from what you want your grandchildren to experience. Today’s grandma is more likely to go inline skating with grandkids than to bake cookies, and granddad might like paddleboarding better than fishing.

Grandparents Shouldn’t Have to Compete for Access to Grandkids
Personality, geography, and available time are just a few of the factors in the complicated matter of balancing grandparents’ access to grandkids. The tricky part is to make sure that all grandchildren know they are loved by all grandparents.

Whatever you do, and how you adapt to your role as a grandparent will forever leave a footprint for your family and loved ones. Take time to assess such an important journey as you navigate grandparenting.



*Portions of article reprinted from:

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