I’m sure there are a lot of other Grandparents out there besides me! I was so proud to have become a Grandma when I was thirty eight years old. Mind you, a step-grandma, I was far too young at that age to have a child who is having children, right?! HA! To fill you in, my hubby and I are both divorced and remarried, he is seven years older than me, his children are older than my son, and so that’s how I became a Grandma at such a young age.
Grandchildren are such a blessing. We can love them, care for them, shower love upon them, and help them learn and grow! We can have a HUGE impact in their lives! We can pray daily for them – so many, many things we can do. But guess what. There is also a HUGE list of what we should not be doing. You read that correctly. There are things that we do, (and I’m including the royal “we” here, so yes, me too) that we need to stop. There are things that we say that we need to stop. If we want to show love to our kids, step kids, son or daughter-in-law, we need to be respectful of them, their children, and their rules.
GRANDPARENTS – KEEP YOUR OPINIONS TO YOURSELF
Obviously, all grandparents have raised children. But, just because we raised children doesn’t make us professional parents. We don’t know everything. We need to be careful of our attitudes towards our kids, and let them parent THEIR children the best way they know how. We don’t need to offer advice, unless it is asked for. We need to be respectful, and let our kids find their own parenting path.
GRANDPARENTS NEED TO RESPECT PARENT’S CHOICES
Yes, this means you. You cannot override your kids and do what you want with your grandchildren. Here are a few reminders:
- You do not get to decide on what your grandchild wears
- You do not get to decide on how to discipline your grandchild
- You do not get to ignore your grandchild’s potty training
- You do not get to impose your traditions
- You do not get to break bedtime rules
- You do not get to allow your grandkids to wear or do things at your place that they are not allowed at home
- You do not get to be lax about car seat safety
- You do not get to make educational choices for your grandkids
GRANDPARENTS NEED TO RESPECT THEIR CHILD’s AUTONOMY
Again, just because you are the “mom, or dad” doesn’t give you the right to automatically assume that you can do whatever you want. Your child is married, and now has children. They have a right to their own life without interference from you. Back off – they have their own family now, let them live in peace. Some tips:
- Do NOT show up at the hospital uninvited. It’s a private affair. If you want to visit, ask, or set up a time. Don’t assume you can just show up unannounced. It’s rude.
- Do not go and clean your kid’s house when they are in the hospital. It may seem like a nice thing to do, but again, their house is private. Theirs. You shouldn’t be touching their stuff, their clothes, their laundry, their dust, their dishes, UNLESS they have asked you.
- Do not insist on holding a crying baby. You are not the parent, and keeping a crying child away from their main parent will likely only make it worse. You are not a child whisperer, no matter how much your trick of getting your baby to be quiet worked. Resist the impulse, and leave that crying child with their mom/dad.
- Do not insist on outfits or what to wear for the newborn. Again, let me stress this. You are NOT the parent. Those choices are for your child to decide, not you. You can offer suggestions IF THEY ASK, but otherwise? Bite your lip.
- Do not ignore your child’s health concerns. If your child asks you to wash your hands, or get a flu shot, you need to comply, or they have every right to restrict your access to their baby, your grandchild. Respect their wishes, or you could be cut off.
WHAT GRANDPARENTS SHOULD NEVER DISCUSS
There are some topics that you should never discuss with your child, ever. PERIOD. I mean it! It’s none of your business, and for you to bring it up is rude and obtuse, and downright annoying. Let me repeat that. IT’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!
- Discussing baby weight. It doesn’t matter if it’s your daughter, or daughter-in-law, this subject is taboo. Shut up. Don’t even open your mouth. It’s never appropriate. Weight is personal, and that’s how it should stay.
- Discussing baby names. Again, none of your business. You are not the parent, so back off. Why should your child feel pressure from you when it’s an extremely private, important thing for them to discuss with their SIGNIFICANT other! Leave your two cents out of it.
- Offering life information without the parent’s permission. There are many lessons in life you may want to share, but without your child’s permission, you will probably get into hot water. It’s not up to you to explain death, or sex with your grandchildren. If your grandchild ask you, questions like these, you can simply direct them to go ask their parents instead.
- Criticize parents behind their back. You may have differing opinions on how to raise children, but it’s NEVER okay to tell your grandkids that. Your opinion is just that, yours. How your child raises their kids is THEIRS to own. Whatever you say will be repeated, so don’t get yourself into hot water. Keep your opinions about your kids to yourself.
- Breastfeeding versus formula. This is extremely personal. Again, doesn’t matter what you think. Shut up already. Parents decide this – NOT grandparents. Zip that lip.
- Criticize parent’s food choices. Since when do you get to decide what your grandchildren eat? You may be vegan and think it’s the healthiest thing ever, but your kids get to decide what they will eat. Not you. Take your healthy recipes and shove them somewhere. If your child/in-law wants a recipe that you make, they will ask for it. Then you can share.
- Compare grandkids to their parents. Sure, we might be tempted to jump in and say, “well, your mom’s room was NEVER clean, she was a slob growing up.” That is so harmful. All you are doing is making everyone feel less worthy. All kids are different, and to compare them is a terrible injustice. Don’t be that overbearing, uncouth, horrible Grandmother that says nasty things.
- NEVER ask your grandkids to reveal secrets about their parents. You might feel the need to know what’s going on, but prying for information is treasonous. Kids are sponges, they soak up everything. They repeat everything. Your kids will repeat everything you said to them, guaranteed. Your kids will find out, and be furious with you.
- NEVER talk about your kids past. It doesn’t matter what you want to share, whether it’s good, embarrassing, or painful. It will only cause resentment between you and your kids. Your grandkids could start bringing up what you’ve told them as a means of getting their own way. It’s none of your grandchildren’s business to know what happened in the past. Leave it alone. Zip your lip. Shut your mouth.
- Request more grandchildren. Not every family has the means or desires to have multiple children. Some may struggle with infertility, and they don’t want you to know. Fielding requests about children could be very painful, and your kids might start to resent you. Before you open your big fat mouth, remember that you are just about to strain your relationship.
WHAT GRANDPARENTS SHOULD NEVER DO
Yes, there actually more things that Grandparents should never do. And I really am emphasizing NEVER DO. Here is another list for you to digest:
- Ignore parent’s choices about discipline. Your kids are the boss, and they set discipline limits. It’s not up to you to change that, or ignore that. You need to follow the same procedures they have. If you can’t, your kids aren’t going to trust you, or allow you to be around their children.
- Insist on unsafe sleeping practices. Just because you had your child sleep on their tummy in a full crib of stuffed animals and blankets and nothing happened, does not mean they have to listen. If the parents want the baby on their back, then the baby gets put to bed on their back. Do not EVER disobey the parent’s wishes. You are not the parent, get your head around it. Would you want someone to defy your rules? I think not!
- Give your input on a parent’s choice to work or stay at home. Even if you have a strong opinion about it, you don’t get to decide. In some families it makes sense for one of the parents to stay home. If both parents go back to work, that’s also a choice. But it’s THEIR choice, not yours.
- Try to raise your grandkids like you did. Nope. Stop it right now. Every family is different. These are different times, and parenting is different. What worked 30 years ago is not going to work now.
- Ignore potty training. You must follow the parent’s potty training, so you don’t set your grandchild back. It is a HUGE thing. You do not want to be dealing with a four-five year old in diapers because you didn’t follow a schedule.
- Impose your traditions on them. Just because you were baptized as an infant, doesn’t mean your grandchild has to be. Most people these days are not religious, and you have no right to try to force your tradition on someone else. Let your kids make their own choices.
- Supply non-stop treats. Okay, it’s nice to be able to spoil and indulge your grandchild, but that doesn’t mean every time you see them you need to overload them with sugar. Save that for the special occasions!
- Break bedtime rules. Getting kids into bed can be bad enough, but you letting them break the rules is worse. Kids thrive on routine, and they need their sleep. Stick to their schedule, even if you think “staying up late once in a while can’t hurt.” Yes it can. Besides, it’s not your place to decide. Rules are rules, and you need to respect the parents.
GRANDPARENTS NEED TO ASK PERMISSION BEFORE MAKING DECISIONS
Because we are parents ourselves, we often just make decisions, because it’s what we do. But as a grandparent making decisions for our grandchild, we don’t have that right. We need to think about it, and then ASK permission to do something. We can’t just react and do whatever we want. Have a read of the list below, and make sure you’re not guilty of these choices:
- Giving haircuts. Don’t you dare cut your grandchild’s hair. First haircuts are a BIG deal, and you do NOT get to decide on how long or short your grandchild’s hair should be.
- Take your grandchild on a major experience that their parents might want to go along. Whether it’s their first time to Dairy Queen, or a movie theatre, that experience should be up to their parent. You never know what milestones are important for your kids to experience with their own kids, so don’t make those decisions to do something special without asking. Always, always, always ask.
- Post your grandchild’s picture on Facebook or Instagram. Just because you have the world’s cutest grandchildren does not give you the right to post pictures. You need to be respectful and ask the parent before you post. And if they say no? Do NOT post the picture anyway. It’s not your right. It’s the fastest way to alienate your kids.
- Use sketchy remedies for medical issues. No, it’s not okay for you to rub whiskey on their gums to resolve their teething issues, or any other home-made recipe or idea you may have. It doesn’t matter if your family did it “that way” for generations and it always worked. You may NOT decide a medical remedy. PERIOD.
- Revamp their wardrobe. You might decide that your grandchild needs to be decked out in designer clothing, but you need to respect what the parents decide is acceptable, and what they can afford. You will have opportunities over your lifetime to buy your grandkids clothes for Christmas or birthdays, but it’s up to their parents if they allow their child to dress in them.
GRANDPARENTS MUST NEVER EVER….
- Pick favorites. Just because you might prefer one of your grandchildren to another doesn’t mean you should EVER make that known to them. Playing favorites will only make your grandchildren, and their parents resent you.
- Invite yourself along to family outings. Of course you are undeniably the grandparent, but that doesn’t mean you have to go along with everything they do as a family. They want to be making their own memories. If they want you to be a part of it, they will invite you. You should never make them feel guilty about excluding you. If you are guilty of this, STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Just because you are a grandparent does not give you the right to decide what you get to do with your grandchildren. This especially includes birthdays and all holidays.
- Agree to new pets. No, you don’t get to decide if your grandchild needs a pet. We all know it’s the parents who end up with the responsibility, and it’s a huge commitment. Don’t you EVER ever show up with a pet as a gift.
- Reward bad behavior. If you give in to tantrums by letting your grandchild watch another movie, or stay up late, you’re only making it harder for their parents to deal with them via their own methods at home. Kids need to learn that that are consequences to bad behavior, and you need to follow what their parent’s rules are. Don’t ever reward tantrums, don’t take the easy way out. Follow it through with the appropriate discipline and consequence.
- Ignore manners. It’s important that children say please and thank you, and you need to continue along with that practice.
- Provide unlimited screen time. If the parents have set how much time their kids have for screen time, it’s up to you to follow that rule to the letter of the law. Remember, it’s THEIR rules, not yours.
- Expect grandchildren to make contact. Uh, no! You are the adult, it’s up to YOU to initiate contact with your kids, and grandchildren. Don’t try to guilt them into phoning you, or sending you texts or emails. Be the responsible adult, and realize that they are busy, young, and don’t have as much time on their hands as you do. Stop complaining on how little you hear from them, and reach out instead. Take some initiative, stop being lazy and complaining.
- Lay on guilt trips. Don’t start trying to guilt your kids into spending time with your grandchildren, because you “don’t know how many years you have left”. The first months of a baby’s life are a struggle for the baby and parents, and they don’t need you to guilt trip them about a lack of inclusion. They have their own life, leave them alone. If you keep pesting, you can be assured you will be avoided at all costs.
- Acting like a surrogate parent. Yes, you may have formed bonds with your grandkids, but hey – you are NOT their actual parent. It’s up to their parents to make the rules and decisions regarding their child, not you. Take the backseat Grandma and Grandpa, and let your kids drive instead.
GRANDPARENTS NEED TO BE ON THEIR BEST BEHAVIOUR
Yes, yes you do. Your grandchildren will be watching you, and imitating you. Do you really want them to pick up on your bad habits? The answer is no, and should be for all of us. So, be careful what you do and say! This means…
- No smoking. Of course, if you smoke, you smoke. But your grandchildren don’t need to see you doing it. Don’t influence them. You may think you’re not, but you are.
- No drinking, except at the table. You don’t need to be imbibing all the time in front of your grandkids. If you need a drink, wait until they’ve gone to bed, or gone home.
- No swearing. Your grandkids don’t need to learn the latest swear word from you. It’s uncouth, it’s rude, and it usually expresses anger. There is no need for these words to come out of your mouth.
- No disregarding rules: seatbelt laws, texting, or speeding. Don’t flout the laws, which is disrespectful of authority. You may not like the law, but you need to obey it.
GRANDPARENTS HAVE THE BEST JOB IN THE WORLD
Yes, yes we do. We can love, spoil, hug, kiss, and encourage our grandchildren. We can spend time with them, take them on special outings, and buy them gifts. And then we can give them back to their parents. We must never violate the trust between our kids, and their children. Ever. We need to respect boundaries, and obey them. If you want to be a wonderful grandparent, you will respect all the decision your child makes about them, no matter if you agree or disagree with their parenting styles.
Life is all about choices, and if you want to have a wonderful relationship with your grandchildren and their parents, make sure you are respectful of their boundaries. That is the bottom line. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Remember that, and you’ll do fine!
I have six wonderful grandchildren, and each one is a blessing. I’m so proud of them all. I pray for them daily, and I’m honored that they call me Grandma.
Being a grandparent is one of the best things in the world!