Here are some of Ask Granny’s ways to maintain a positive relationship with your grandkids.
Do you remember the days when you were raising your children and you were the boss? Well, let me tell you, those days are over. And believe it or not, that’s okay.
A good friend was shocked when her daughter gave birth to her first child and informed Grandma, “Please don’t give any unsolicited advice.” Wow. What is a Grandma to do? Her response was, “Well, we grandparents do know a few things.”
Yes, we do, but here’s the thing. We aren’t the parents, we’re the grandparents and that’s an entirely different role. We don’t live with the grandkids day in and out. We aren’t responsible for setting boundaries to keep the grandkids safe and instill some manners and character. We get to be there for the birthdays and parties. We get to take the grandkids on fun outings. We’re not so interested in their potty training and their temper tantrums.
So, grandparents, it’s a new day. We will often have to bite our tongues because we have things to say that won’t be appreciated. And the world has changed since our day. We might do things differently ourselves if we were in our children’s parenting shoes.
Here are some tips for maintaining smooth family relationships:
Assume the Positive
Your children are parenting their children, your grandkids, the best way they know. It’s important to assume they have the best motives for making their decisions about setting limits, maintaining discipline and making rules. You may not agree with some of the things they say or do, but having a level of trust for their motives is a way to keep a positive relationship with them. This is especially true with the son-in-law or daughter-in-law who doesn’t have the benefit of a lifetime of interactions with you. Any negative comments or even negative facial expressions will send a message of “I don’t approve.”
Only When Asked
This is a tough one to live out. We know things. We have the benefit of many years experience raising children. But unless our children ask for advice, they will see it as criticism. No one likes to be criticized, even if they know their parenting skills are weak. Find ways to model proper interactions with your grandchildren—unconditional love, speaking with respect, setting firm but fair limits, and refrain from giving verbal advice on any subject at all unless you’re asked for it.
Live Your Own Life
Sometimes we get too close to our children’s lives and find ourselves attempting to live our lives through them. We need to “get a life” of our own. Senior living is full of possibilities. We can travel, garden, dance, play tennis, write our memoirs, and any number of other fun and rewarding activities. We can take on a cause such as sponsoring projects around the world or fighting breast cancer. We can volunteer in our schools, hospitals and community service centers. There is a fine line between enjoying time with the children and grandchildren and living a full life of our own.
Make it Work
There are few things more tragic than broken family relationships. And sometimes we grandparents need to take a deep breath and keep moving in a positive direction in the face of lack of respect or lack of appreciation. Unless our grandchildren are in danger in some way, we must keep showing love and kindness even when we know there are mistakes being made. It’s hard, but necessary. The reward is a full and happy life with a strong family connection. It’s worth it.