Grandma gets into the car and pulls the door shut a little harder than usual. She’s upset…her blood pressure is up.

“Why don’t they listen? If I were raising those kids they would listen when they were told to do something! Why are they allowed to get away with things like that?”

Sound familiar?

Is your generation somewhat frustrated with the way kids are being brought up these days? Do you feel that parents aren’t strict enough? Do you often find yourself comparing child rearing then and now?

There have been dozens of best-selling books published over the last few decades that were supposed to contain the perfect plan for bringing up little Jason or Emily. There were breakthroughs in how young parents were to interact with their young children at all stages. Have these new ideas worked?

Current experts will tell you that your methods of raising kids probably wouldn’t work today. Apparently you cannot expect your children to raise your grandchildren the same way you raised them. They say our culture has changed dramatically.

Some young parents’ philosophy of raising children is not to lay any boundaries and let the child make the most of their own decisions. The parent doesn’t want to stifle their ability to make their own choices. How does this fit with your style? Do you think it is “overly permissive?”

Apparently you cannot expect your children to raise your grandchildren the same way you raised them.

Here’s the reality: No matter what you think, be very careful what you say because you might do permanent damage to your relationship with your children and their spouses. You may try to love you adult child by giving them advice, thinking you are helping them avoid difficulties. But are you?

Determine that your role is to support them on their journey through parenthood rather than intervening or second-guessing their decisions all the time. Remember it is now their turn to be parents!

Your children and their spouses must navigate through all aspects of childcare: feeding, bedtime policy, napping, playtime issues, socialization, rules of sharing and the learning of health habits. (We haven’t even mentioned teen-age issues.) Grandparents need to be supportive and recognize the “primary authority” of the parents in raising their grandchildren. You can be an invaluable resource “when asked” but you must fit in with their family culture rather than challenging it. Even though it’s hard, be prepared to take a back seat.

Valuable dos and don’ts

  1. Do defer decision-making to the parents and go along with their rules. When your grandson asks if he can have a snack before dinner, consider telling him it’s best to ask his mom first. This conveys your respect for his mother’s authority.
  2. Don’t ever criticize how your grandchild is parented in front of your grandchild. Don’t undermine the parents’ position. You won’t be helping the situation.
  3. Parenting can be difficult so let the parents of your grandkids know when they are doing a great job. Compliment them on things that are working well. Be available to release the pressure when you can.
  4. Above all else, enjoy your grandchildren!

The grandparenting role is one to relish, not fuss about. Leave the parenting to the parents. So remember: your role on the family team has changed. You aren’t the coach anymore…you are now the president of their fan club. CHEER THEM ON!

© Allen Unrau

This article was written by: Allen Unrau

Photo Credit: Ariel Lustre