Since the beginning of time, parents have been in charge of guiding their children and teaching them to function in society.
It’s probably a safe bet that each new generation of parents has done things a bit differently than the one before them, leaving a long history of grandparents who are sometimes baffled or disappointed by the behaviour of their grandchildren.
One family’s Story
Will and Sophie have seven grandchildren, ranging in age from four to nineteen years old, and they adore each of them. Despite their undying affection for their children’s children, they do have some concerns about the kids’ behaviour. “We were pretty strict with our kids,”
Sophie says. “Not harsh, but definitely firm. The grandchildren, some more than others, seem to run a bit wild.”
When asked for examples of her grandchildren’s wild behaviour, Sophie smiled and said, “How much time do you have?”
She thought for a few minutes and then continued. “Honestly, there are quite a few things that bother us. The older ones use appalling language and seem to have no concern about how it impacts the people around them. I’m not saying that they should never use the words that they do, just that they need to be respectful and aware that there are some situations that require more self-control.”
The youngest children concern their grandparents, too. Will and Sophie sometimes look after their daughter’s two young children, aged seven and four, in order to give their parents some time alone.
Often, these visits leave both grandparents stressed, feeling that they spend much of the time that they get with the kids reprimanding them, something they’d rather not do. “If their parents would take the time to teach them to be polite and well-behaved, our time together would be much more enjoyable.”
As far as the middle grandchildren—both the offspring of her son and daughter-in-law—Sophie is happy to report that they are usually a pleasure to be around.
“Our daughter-in-law is quite conscientious about keeping tabs on the children’s behaviour, and it really shows. She and our son are very loving, but their children know that rudeness or disobedient behaviour have consequences.
The children are not always perfectly behaved, but then again, none of us are.”
Handling Conflict with Grown Children
For the most part, Will and Sophie have kept their opinions to themselves regarding their grandchildren’s less than stellar behaviour, but they have occasionally felt the need to speak up.
They’ve been careful, though, to approach the children and grandchildren respectfully, hoping to avoid hurt feelings. Their efforts have not always been successful.
“We asked our oldest grandchildren to watch their language when they were in our home, but only one complied, so we tried talking with their mother—our daughter. Unfortunately, she took offence and felt that we were judging her parenting abilities, which was not our intent,”
Sophie says. “She was quite upset and before we knew it, we had a bigger problem on our hands.”
Sophie and Will worked things out with their daughter, but it took some time. “We felt a little unwelcome for a while, but things are better now.”
Words of Wisdom
Experience has taught them well, and Will and Sophie are happy to offer some advice to other grandparents. They caution grandparents about trying to impose their standards on their grandchildren.
“We have to remember that parents have the right to raise their children any way that they choose, and that even when it is offered with the best intentions, unsolicited advice is rarely appreciated.”
Sophie says that both her parents and her husband’s probably didn’t always approve of the choices the couple made when raising their family, yet they would have undoubtedly resented their interference.
“The best thing to do, in our opinion, is to try and set a good example for your grandchildren. In time, these quiet lessons will take hold, and the children will be better for them.”