Grandparenting: How to manage conflicting opinions
Now that you’re a grandparent, you might be eager to pass on to all of the tips and tricks you learned when raising your own children. But your hard-earned advice might not always be welcomed with open arms. Things do change after all, including parenting tactics.
For example, while you might have fed your baby formula, your daughter-in-law might plan to breast-feed. Or perhaps you stayed home to take care of your children, while your child and his or her partner both plan to continue working. As your grandchild gets older, you and your grandchild’s parents may also have different opinions about the toys your grandchild should play with — wood or plastic? — or the amount of television he or she should be allowed to watch. This can be tricky territory.
If your parenting styles differ, it might not always be easy to keep your opinions to yourself. But keep in mind that what every new parent can really use is support or help around the house, not unsolicited advice. Try to remember what it was like making the transition to being a parent. Help your adult child grow in confidence and praise his or her initiatives. Let the new family know that they have your love and support.
Your grandchild’s parents will ultimately have the final say over how their child is raised and the rules in their house. But if you baby-sit your grandchild, gently let the parents know that the rules might be a little different at your house. These small differences may even help your grandchild learn to be more flexible.
To avoid unnecessary misunderstandings or resentment, be clear about what kind of a grandparent you want to be. Some grandparents are playful and enjoy engaging their grandchildren in activities. Others have busy schedules or are limited in terms of their abilities or how often they can get together. And still others want to be a part of their grandchildren’s daily lives, helping with childcare. Having a grandchild is truly exciting but be sure to keep in mind your own preferences, needs and limitations.
Looking for a gift to send to parents of young children? Try Mayo Clinic Guide to Raising a Healthy Child, or Mayo Clinic Guide to Your Baby’s First Years.
Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Aging & Health: Take Charge blog.
@joeykeillor What wonderful advice/suggestions! At least 100 years ago, I made a promise to myself to stay out of their parenting and just have fun.
@becsbuddy @joeykeillor. Thank you for the advice. I only have one grandchild, two and a half years old. I find it hard to offer some advice on parenting. I can talk to my son very honestly but find it more difficult with my daughter in law. I grew up in a structured family… My parents had 9 kids… It's the only way to go. I understand it's not my duty to parent my grandson, he's a very smart and sweet boy. How can I offer some gentle guidance without sounding like I'm interfering, or shall I just bite my tongue? I only want what's best for the child.
@mayofeb2020 At 2 1/2 kids are so cute and a handful! When my grandson lived near, I babysat him 1 day a week and just loved it! It was a good time to help him learn his P’s and Q’s and brush up on manners. Then he was able to come for sleepovers. Then his sister came along and I got to watch her 1 day a week until I got very sick. Then they moved to the center of the state—5 hours away! 😞
I’ve really learned that the most important thing is that I be a good, older friend. They’ll pick up lots from just watching me. If I correct them too much, we won’t have fun anymore. They love it when we come because we bring art projects and science projects (from what we find in the kitchen!)
@mayofeb2020. Just have fun!