a special feature from Kay Ziplow & Leslie Zinberg, founders
Well, well, good intentions will only get you so far grandparents with your own grown children who are the parents of your adoring grandchildren. Remember those words of wisdom, because as you already know- too many words of opinion, doling out unsolicited advice can often open a world of discontent and despair from them. Before you know it- you are in big trouble.
First things first- it is not a good idea to start conversations with grown adult children like this: “you’re doing that wrong” or “you don’t know what you are doing”. Grandparents tend to have two things on their side: one, they’re parents, and two, they are still alive- meaning they probably know a thing or two about kids and situations and life in general. It makes it hard to argue with them. What we want our own grandchildren and their parents to know is that we really do mean well and want to make sure everyone is safe and well cared for. Grandparents have GRAND intentions, and it’s as simple as considering these three suggestions!
Say it with a smile
Well of course as grandparents we know our experiences and our own personal journey through parenthood, but it is so important for us to remember that our children are now starting their own parental journey. And, although we may always think we know best, it is important to give our opinions in a way that our children can evaluate, rather than just throw our suggestions right out the window because we have overstepped our boundaries. Make an effort to converse- have real conversation which is an exchange of discussion no matter what the topic or situation is. So, when your adult child is getting the nursery ready for the new baby, try to refrain from saying things like “Oh, I know how to set up a nursery… the crib must go near the window.”. Leave the conversation open for your child to chime in and ask for suggestions rather than making claims that you know better. Having a baby is an exciting time for everyone, so you don’t want to have any unnecessary conflict that’s going to take away from any of the joy.
Grandparents- be sure boundaries are not crossed. Respect the parents
There will be times when you see the baby fussing and decide on your way to give them a bottle; but don’t forget that Mom and Dad probably have the baby on their feeding schedule. Don’t make the mistake to just do as you please – make sure that the communication between you and the parent is open on expectations when it comes to taking care of the baby. Do not take it personally when they give you specific directions pertaining to the baby. After all, they are the parent. And remember, they don’t have to be babies; all this applies to every age bracket of children – practice a little respect.
Play to your strengths
Nowadays, our generation of modern grandparents aren’t like the ones we grew up with or the generations before them. We are more mobile and are very involved attending to our life interests and needs. Some of us are still working. We aren’t all sitting home baking cookies for our grandchildren, cleaning up behind them as they play at our house. Use your active life as a strength to grandparenting. If you see that mom might be overwhelmed with the chores at home, offer to take the grandkids out for a walk or even for a lunch date. Giving parents some time alone while doing an activity with the grandkids will show your child you are there to support. Conversely, don’t use your grandchildren as an excuse to prove how wonderful you are and how much you can do. Your relationships with your adult children should also include your depth of self-respect for things that are your responsibility in life – whether it be a job or enjoying your own interests and pursuits.
There’s nothing wrong in taking a step back. If you feel the urge to jump right in- be smart- evaluate your intentions and listen to your grown children. Sometimes taking a deep breath is the best approach. After all, your grown children are entitled to make decisions that suit them and their needs. Bottom line? Don’t be pushy – be respectful. This is their story, this is their life. Enjoy and relax and embrace this wonderful journey of grandparenting.