Art of grandparenting

Parenting In Partnership With Grandparents

Now I have fabulous a system in place. Every Saturday my kids spend the night with their grandparents. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. My little fellows brighten up the weekend for my parents. The kids love it because they get totally pampered. And for my husband and me, we get that much needed downtime at the end of the week. I find grandparents bring certain roundedness to a child’s upbringing by filling in the gaps. They provide love and solace, and act as a cushion against many of the usual stresses that children have to deal with while growing up. And yet often parents and grandparents face huge conflicts while balancing out their roles in a child’s upbringing. The trick is in appreciating the value of each other’s participation in a child’s life and establishing clear boundaries for both parties.

Working through the pitfalls

Communication is pivotal to the relationship between parents and grandparents. Here are few pointers for grandparents to ensure harmony in their relationships with their children and grandchildren

  • Respect  parental rules – Grandparents  have to respect the parenting decisions made by their children. Even if it will bring a smile on the little one’s face, do not break parental rules like sleep-time routines, TV time and the amount of candy a child is allowed to eat. These rules are enforced for the benefit of children and when grandparents say it’s OK to break them, it’s difficult to discipline kids.
  • Don’t buy your grandkids’ affection – It’s tempting for grandparents to shower their grandchildren with gifts, but check with the child’s parents before you buy more toys. Maybe you can substitute some of your gift giving with activities, and do something with your grandchild that you both will love.
  • Do not play favorites – Some grandparents indulge one grandchild more than the others. Sometimes this happens rather unwittingly. Children are very sensitive and can be hurt by this and grandparents have to be very conscious that all their grandchildren feel equally loved.

Parents too have to make an extra effort in nurturing the relationship between grandparents and their children. Make sure there is regular one-on-one time spent with grandparents. Facilitate activities kids can do with their grandparents like visits to the park or a movie. If the families are living far apart, then a regular call, web chat or email will keep grandparents connected with the lives of kids. Keep them posted on milestones, such as birthdays, awards won and many more. Share information about children’s friends, interests and hobbies. One of the greatest challenges of growing older is the sense of not being able to keep up and we have to sensitive to this need of our elders.

Physical limitations of the older generation are another key issue. Sometimes older people cannot cope with too much activity and get distressed. In these instances limiting the amount of time spent with grandchildren or having someone to help during visits would be advisable. Of course these should be decided upon together with the grandparents and with their approval.

While grandparents need to accept that their children may have a different philosophy for bringing up the little ones. There is a lot to be gained from their experience. Giving grandparents an ear, and carefully considering their advice will make them feel relevant in a child’s upbringing. Of course you have to be able to make grandparents understand that the final decision is yours.

Another reason for a breakdown in relationships is the competitiveness for a child’s attention and love. In these instances both parents and grandparents need to realize that both relationships have a very different dimension to it, and both are very important for the emotional wellbeing of a child. Children have a huge capacity to love and to seek love, and both parents and grandparents will find a special place in the little ones’ hearts.

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