These days, it seems that children are spending more time with their grandparents, and extended families, than ever before. With the rise in the incidence of single parents, or the need for double incomes to make ends meet, grandparents are becoming “parents” again. Today, let’s talk about the grandparent-grandchild relationship, and making it the best relationship possible.
When it comes to being a good grandparent, the first obstacle to go around is about change. As a parent, it was your responsibility to make rules and give advice. But, when your children have their own children, this must change even though it may be difficult for you to shift gears. To maintain peace in the family, you’ll want to refrain from giving advice to your kids about how to raise their children – unless, of course, they ask for it.
It’s only natural to be concerned about your grandchildren’s welfare and well-being, but unless they’re actually in danger, you want to express your concern with a loving, supportive presence. Parents, especially new parents of newborns, need all the support they can get. You can offer much-appreciated babysitting services and a sympathetic ear, but endless unsolicited instructions and tips, however well meaning, will cause push-back, if nothing else.
On the other hand, it’s important that you be an active participant in your grandchildren’s lives. Don’t let your need to avoid the “interfering grandparent” stereotype keep you from being actively involved. Just stay sensitive to your grandchildren, and let their parents be parents. If you’ve built a strong trust relationship with your grandchildren, they may just turn to you as a sounding board as they grow up. Having that loving, common-sense, “willing-to-tell-you-what-you-don’t-necessarily-want-to-hear” relationship is something we all treasure, even as adults.
It is fascinating and enjoyable to watch grandchildren grow – whether the “grandchildren” are yours or not. Each of us has the ability, perhaps even the responsibility, to serve as a guide to members of each new generation.