What Not To Do

Grandparents can be a wonderful source of assistance to their children in caring for the grandchildren. In many families the grandparents are the most frequent babysitters and parents are sincerely appreciative of the help that the grandparents offer.

There is a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive, though, and grandparents must be careful not to overstep their boundaries.

Open Communication

Since all people are different and have varying expectations of the role of grandparents, it is a good idea for potential grandparents to approach their grown children before the birth of the children to offer their assistance and inquire as to how they can be most helpful.

By allowing the parents to make suggestions, grandparents can minimize the chances of offending their kids by assuming they need help in areas where they would rather not have any.

Likewise, expectant parents may want to initiate a conversation with the sets of grandparents, acknowledging the importance of their roles in the children’s lives, and asking for help as needed.

By doing so, the grandparents will feel valued and may be less inclined to intrude in matters that are not specifically requested. This respectful communication should continue throughout the children’s childhoods, adapting as the children’s needs change.

Respecting the Role of Parents

There is no doubt that parents are often a bit stressed and overwhelmed, and grandparents, having already raised their children, may have a wealth of knowledge in matters of childrearing.

Possessing that knowledge doesn’t give grandparents the right to question the methods in which their grown children choose to raise their offspring, though, even if the grandparents feel that their kids are doing everything wrong.

Unless there is parental abuse or neglect of the children, grandparents must never attempt to usurp the authority of the parents in matters relating to the grandchildren.

Parents have every right to make decisions that they feel benefit their children and no one, not even the most well meaning grandparents, should try to interfere with their judgment.

Handling Disagreements

Even when everyone is trying to be considerate of other family members, disagreements will sometimes arise. Families are made up of people with individual strengths and weaknesses and at times, personalities are bound to clash.

It is important to address misunderstandings promptly, rather than allowing hurt feelings to grow until they become too large to handle.

Harmony within the family should be the ultimate goal for all parties, so compromise is a far better choice than a steely determination to “win.”

General Rules

In general, parents and grandparents must try to honor the other’s wishes and offer reasonable compromises whenever possible. There are a few guidelines that should help both sides in keeping the peace.

For Grandparents:

Never “overrule” a parent’s decision by allowing the grandchildren to do something when you know that the parents disapprove.

Never voice opposition to a parent’s decision regarding the grandchildren, especially in front of the children.

If you have negative feelings about the children’s parent(s), keep them to yourself. Never bad-mouth a parent to their children. Respect parents wishes regarding nutrition, television viewing, discipline and other things. Parents should always have the final say in matters concerning their children.

For Parents:

Try to allow a bit of flexibility in the rules when your children are visiting their grandparents. Bedtimes and nutritional guidelines can be stretched a bit without causing harm to the children.

Speak of the children’s grandparents in a respectful, loving manner. Remember; even if you have mixed feelings about your parents or in-laws, your children probably adore them.

If the grandparents consistently disregard your rules regarding the children, do speak to them in hopes of reaching a peaceful understanding. It may help if each parent deals with their own set of parents in difficult situations since the grandparents may be more inclined to listen without resentment to their own child rather than a son or daughter-in-law.

Try to encourage a close bond between your children and their grandparents. A good grandparent/grandchild relationship is valuable to both parties.

Teamwork Within the Family

Ideally, children would be surrounded by adults who treat each other in a respectful, cooperative manner. Not only does this type of environment foster feelings of security in children, it also provides them with good examples on which to model their own behaviour.

Families who are in a constant state of battle are sure to leave the kids feeling torn.

Since the happiness and well being of the children is the main goal of parents and grandparents, they need to interact in ways that honour each other and the children.

5 thoughts on “What Not To Do”

  1. I feel I must contribute to this discussion because it is the issue of how poorly disciplined children/grandchildren can effect a marriage where the child is the offspring of stepchildren. My husband’s grandson has never been given ,boundaries,taught good manners nor respect for others or adults.The maternal grandmother and mother are to blame..allowing this child to dictate how he acts and lives.The boy is now 6 years old and rude,disrespectful and indulged! It caused a lot of problems in my marriage and was one of deciding factors why I left.My step-daughter allowed this child to abuse my belongings,lie about what happened while he was in our home and scream instead of learning to speak in a quieter tone.Unfortunatelymy ex- husband never took the initiative to help parent this child nor address what was the lack of sound parenting and when I attempted to do what was necessary I was attacked and treated as an enemy.I knew this situation was never going to get better and I literally had to avoid them when they came to visit! I worked in mental health ,which encompassed dealing with families and not one bit of constructive advice and knowledge proven to work would ever be accepted.Instead I was hated! So I left so I did not have to live on the margins of a life.Thankfully,my daughter has to well behaved,mannerly and happy children I can enjoy.Not perfect but their parents do what is requires to help them become individuals that can enjoy life without burdening others by lack of good behavior.It is a very sad thing to see children out of control and not pleasant to be around.

  2. I am a fairly new grandma, she is (6) and he is (4).I have been Very close to my grandaughter from day one.We just bonded. Him not so much, and I feel horrible that I don’t feel equally Towards them.Even worse, they let him get away with everything And do not discipline him at home.None of my business. But when they come to my house for the weekend,I will not Tolerate his behavior.He needs to learn what is acceptable Behavior or he may stay home and act as such.Anyway, I have Been given the ultimatum that if I take one grandkid, I must take Them both.Now I cannot see my grandaughter whom I adore. Why should I be expected to tolerate bad behavior that they Allow at home.Until he learns what is acceptable behavior at Grandmas, I refuse to have him.It’s suppose to be fun and enjoyable To spend time with grandkids, not be a nervous wreck, and upset Because one of them has pushed you over the edge. Maybe I’m wrong, but I will not be bullied anymore.

  3. @Monda – you can understand though why the parents want you to take them both and not favourite one child above the other. I’d feel the same as a parent and would never choose one of my grandkids over the other. I am closer to one of my grankids, only because the others spent the first five years abroad and I didn’t have that immediate consistent bond, but I still would never not treat them equally. As a grandparent (or parent) you can’t really have a preference as it is really unfair on the other child. I’m with the parents on this.

  4. My daughter has gone back to full-time work after working part-time sine the birth of her first son now aged 4 and in reception at school. Her younger son is at the school nursery having started there in January he is 3. I agreed to collect the children 2 days a week but due to my Daughter and her husband having heavy workloads I am often asked to do this more frequently. I don’ t mind doing any of this as i live around the corner and love the boys dearly. But my younger grandson is finding this difficult and has terrible angry outbursts when I turn up to collect him. I have had to carry him home kicking and screaming all the way as there is no other way of coaxing or encouraging him to walk back with me, he just wants his mum! Yesterday was another bad day he lashed out all the way home and then cried for an hour when we got in. I am dreading the same happening today can anyone please advise me what to do. He is a gorgeous, funny and loving boy most of the time,

  5. @D – this is not something that is confined just to grandparents, so please don’t take it personally as it can affect parents too. It’s nice to know he’s having a nice time at nursery, but he is also in a transitional period and possibly finding it difficult being in three separate places through the day. I think the best thing is to have a word with the nursery and ask them if they can prepare him for your picking him up in order to make the transition go as smoothly as possible. Also, speak to your daughter and tell her what is happening. It might just be that he is simply missing his mum and while nursery distracts him, he subconsciously knows it’s going to be another space of time before he can get back to the comfort of home. It can be quite a long day for a little one, and he may just be plain tired, but the more he gets used to it, hopefully he will eventually settle down and adjust.

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