No one wakes up and says,”I think that today, I’m going to be my kid’s worst nightmare of a grandparent.” Instead, we have good intentions. Some of us just plain don’t realize that what we are doing isn’t building relationships. Instead, it’s actually tearing them down. Here are some of the grandparenting pitfalls that are so easy to fall into.
Trying to be the parent.
“As much as you might want to tell your children how to raise your grandkids, it’s not your role. Respect the parenting decisions your children make for your grandkids.”
One of the issues that is hard to accept at times, is that when our children marry, they are subject to another family’s values. We struggled with this more than a few times. Our family values centered around homeschooling our children. And yet, several of our children’s spouses’ families were adamantly against it. We had to step back. That wasn’t what we wanted for our grandchildren. However, we had to understand that the dynamics of every family is different. You can’t impose your decisions on another family. Not only is it not right to do, but quite possibly not the right choice for that family.
Buying your grandkids’ affection.
“It’s tempting for grandparents to shower their grandkids with gifts, but check with the child’s parents before you buy more toys. Maybe substitute some of your gift giving with activities instead. Do something with your grandchild that you both love and will build memories.
Overindulging the first few grandchildren and then not being able to repeat it as additional grandchildren come along. This can cause resentment from your own children who have kids later in life. Remember that whatever you do for your first grandchild (college fund, beach vacations, trips to the zoo) will set a precedent that you’ll need to repeat for every other grandchild.”
“A grandparent who won’t enforce limits and gives in to their grandchild’s every whim can infuriate parents. By allowing your grandkids to misbehave, overindulge in candy and junk food, or ignore bedtimes, for example, you’re only encouraging unhealthy behavior and making their parents’ job even harder.”
We have experienced our own grandparenting pitfalls.
Full disclosure: My daughter grounded me once from taking my grandkids to the movies. I totally over indulged the kids with popcorn and candy. However, it was not my intention to cross a boundary–it just sort of turned out that way.
My own mother-in-law also crossed a boundry with my first born. It seems petty now. But at the time I was furious. The doctor’s wisdom of the day was to nurse exclusively for the first year. Being a first time mother, I followed his orders religiously.
One day as we were visiting, she told me to sleep in. She would get up in the morning with the baby. That sounded like heaven to a new mother.
However, when I woke up and walked into the kitchen there was my baby with a mouth full of chocolate chip cookie. For some reason, the thought of his first solid food being chocolate chip cookie didn’t sit right with me.
She pulled the “I’m the grandma” card, and trumped hers with “I’m the mom.” That visit didn’t end well.