November 28, 2012

Grandkids and Limits: Yours and Theirs


For many of us having grandkids is one of the sweetest parts of our satisfying retirement. To see your children have children is an amazing experience. To be able to participate in their lives is a joy that never ends. Frankly, to be able to say goodbye at the end of the day and leave the messy parts of child-rearing to others is also very nice!

I know many who are regular readers of this blog live far away from their grandchildren and don't see them as often as they'd like. But, that makes the time you do get to spend with them even more important.

Amidst all the happiness there are some dangers in having grandkids. Usually they are being raised by your children, not you. Regardless of how well you feel your children turned out, I can guarantee that they, along with their spouse, will have at least a few different ideas on how they prefer to raise their kids. And, that is where problems can arise.

The Biggest No-No


Few things can sour a good relationship with your grown child, his or her spouse, and grandkids quicker than inserting yourself into how the children are being raised. Saying something meant to correct a behavior you think is wrong rarely is a smart decision. Talking privately with your child with a suggestion that he or she is making a mistake in child-rearing will not go much better. "That's not how we raised you" are six words that never produce a positive outcome.

Of course, if there is some form of child abuse in evidence you must take steps to bring it to a halt. But, usually, the problem is simply one of differences: your child has chosen to raise his or her child without copying your parenting playbook. Accept it. Realize your child is an adult and deserves to be treated as one. Would you tell a friend what to do unless asked?

Baby-sitting burnout?


Another flash point can be the overplaying of the "grandparent" card by your child. That is when you find yourself babysitting or caring for your precious bundles of joy to the point where you begin to see them as burdens. Your lifestyle and freedoms are being held hostage to a constant request to "watch the kids for a little while."

Since grandparents rarely charge for babysitting this is a financial help to your child. It is also a nice testament to your overall parenting skills and comfort in your presence. But, if you find that you are the only babysitter in your kid's address book and it is becoming an unwelcome occurrence, you can consider becoming a little less available whenever your services are requested.

The reverse situation can also produce tension if you aren't sensitive to it: being around the grandkids too often. If you are lucky enough to live close by, be careful of how frequently you use the "I was in the neighborhood so I just thought I'd drop by" excuse. Being a too frequent presence in the grandkids' lives may bother your child, particularly if you are in the habit of bringing little gifts. 

No Grandkids?


For those who do not have grandkids I imagine you wonder what this post has to do with you. You still might have someone call you Grandad or Gran at some point in the future so hang in there. If you are not likely to ever have this experience I think these cautions apply just as well to how you interact with your grown children.

It is simply a matter of communication and the acceptance of the reality that different approaches aren't wrong, just different. You raised your child to think on his or her own and make decisions. That what is happening. Rejoice that your teachings stuck.


How about you? What grandparent/grandchild problems have you faced? How do you handle the over or under exposure to your grandkids? Help us all with your experience and suggestion.


14 comments:

  1. MIne are a little different. My daughter is a single mother. She gets no child support at all. I have to help. I have to make sure my grandson thrives in this difficult world. I couldn't not do it. Mostly I pay for clothes, shoes, camp, extras. I used to have to do a lot more but now that he is older, most of my help is financial. I won't be able to pay for college though and that eats me up. I adore him and he counts on me.............

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    1. You are doing what good grandparents do when situations are as they are. I am sure both your daughter and grandson love you deeply for your help and support.

      Bless you, Roberta, for being there for them.

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  2. I am blessed. I live close to my kids and the grands, I babysit often and I have only had one run in about discipline. We talked about it and got over it. I love my sons and their wives and they are all doing a great job. I hear others though and I know what you caution here can be a problem. I say if there is no abuse and you are able to say "This is my house and these rules apply while here." Then let everything else go when you are at their house or out you will have a great relationship with you kids and grands. Grands are the best thing that ever happened to me besides Jesus.

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    1. We have a really good relationship with our grandkids and family, too. The cautions I note in this post are those I have heard from others or read about. But, it is important to remember what you said: "This is my house and these rules apply while here" when you are at the parents' house. And, discuss what rules you enforce while the kids are at your home to be sure there is no conflict.

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  3. We are so lucky to have three beautiful grandchildren, two girls and a boy. I am recently retired and I do help out a bit with some child care about one day a week. The other thing I have done, is pay for swimming lessons and have taken the oldest two to their lessons. I am committed to doing the same with the youngest in a year or two. My son and daughter-in-law do have a different parenting style but the values at the core of it are the same as ours. The grandchildren are thriving and always a joy to have around so I see no need to question what they do. I remember how tough it can be to raise three children and I'm sure it isn't any easier today. My husband always tells people, "If I'd known how much fun it would be being a grandparent, I would have skipped being a parent."

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    1. I like your husband's quote!

      You mention the core values. That really is the important point to consider when looking at diferences in parenting styles. If the kids are thriving and developing well, then the details aren't important, except to accept them.

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  4. We are within an hour of all three grandsons. The oldest 2 can come for an afternoon or an overnight visit, which we love. The youngest is furthest away but we manage to see them once a month or so. Schedules are always an issue. With the oldest (10 and 7) it's sports. They are so scheduled it's crazy. We get most of our time with them at the shore in the summer.

    One family has similar parenting styles to ours and the other...not so much. We manage to keep our mouth shut most of the time, but it's always more fun to have the kids alone than with their parents.
    b

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    1. Thanks for sharing both situations. Sometimes you want to say something, but know it will not help. So, you make the best of it and enjoy the kids for the special blessings they are.

      Our daughter's family has the same scheduling issues, but because the kids are young (three 6 and younger) the problem is really mom's schedule. She runs a daycare for up to 12 hours 5 days a week. Her busband is taking night classes toward his Masters. So, they barely have time to breathe, must less get together all that often with us or the other set of grandparents.

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  5. I am discovering that it is NEVER alright to "drop in"! I can't even elaborate on it. It is just simply the truth.

    b

    http://www.retireinstyleblog.com

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    1. Good point...I wouldn't the kids dropping in on us either, without warning or OKing the visit.

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  6. Great post! I catch myself way too often inserting myself into Mia's parenting. Before I know it, some comment has flown out of my mouth about how her baby might be hungry or tired, or maybe not dressed warmly enough, or whatever. I told Mia the other day that I don't know why she just doesn't tell me to butt out sometimes. She takes all my "advice" in good spirits for the most part. I usually catch myself and apologize and promise to try to do better. I tell her all the time what a great mom she is--and that's so true. Hopefully that outweighs my thoughtless interjections.

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    1. You and Mia and the baby have a great relationship. Mia and Jaden (did I remember correctly?) are lucky to have a mom/grandmom as caring and loving as you. I've seen how you intereact with the two of them....you are doing just fine.

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    2. Thanks for the supportive response. (Yes, Jaden.) I think Mia would agree with you for the most part. She is quick to express her appreciation and to seek my advice--both good signs that I'm not messing up too much! I guess what I was trying to highlight is that I see myself offering my own view of things sometimes in ways that sound critical, when in fact, they are just my views and Mia is doing fine. Anyway, you got me thinking!

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    3. Remember you were a lawyer and professor. Expressing yourself is part of who you are!

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