Giving Advice as a Grandparent

January 13, 2009

Being a grandparent can be very tricky. You were a parent once, and you probably have a wealth of information to share with your own children as they become parents. It is very important, however, to know when to share your expertise with your children and when to simply be quiet and let your children find their own way.

Respond When Approached--Discipline

One approach that works for many grandparents is to respond to specific questions when asked. Rather than offering unsolicited advice, you would respond when asked for advice. This can be very difficult, at times, if you see your children making, what you deem to be, mistakes or learning to discipline by trial and error. It can, however, help your children to grow as parents and allow them to feel that they aren't being judged by you. Often times, if people feel that a grandparent is always ready to criticize their parenting style or to offer unsolicited advice, they will stop asking for advice altogether and may stop inviting you to their home. Staying quiet until asked for your comments may help to keep your relationship in tact with your child and to show that you appreciate their judgment.

Rules in Your Home

Whether you give your children advice or not in their home, you are in control of your own relationship with your grandchildren. This means that they need to respect you in your home, and listen to you when they are in your house. You should discuss your expectations for your grandchildren with your own children, so that they will know how the grandchildren should act in your house. They can relay this message to their children and help to create smooth visits when the grandkids come to you.

Gentle Reminders for Discipline

At times, you and your spouse may need to remind each other to stay quiet in situations with your adult children. It is very difficult to hold your tongue, but it will certainly help in your relationship with your adult child and spouse. Discuss this with your partner and decide together when you will remind each other that you've gone too far. If the two of you don't agree on this issue, then you might need to discuss your style as grandparents together and at more length.

A Suggestion That Will Work for Some-Parenting Types

If you have a particularly good relationship with your adult child, you can communicate that you'd like to offer advice at times. Perhaps, together, you can come to an agreement about what advice your children would like to hear from you, and what they would rather not hear. For instance, if you are a pediatrician, you might actually have good advice about sleeping arrangements, sicknesses, breastfeeding, schooling and more. The important thing is to make sure that all advice that you give is given without judgment and without expectations. If your adult children do want your advice, they want just that - advice. They don't want you to criticize how they are doing things now. They don't want you to make them feel guilty or sad for their present actions or to regret any choices they've made. And they certainly don't want to feel that you are judging them. If you are able to give advice within these parameters, then a little bit of advice will probably be helpful.

Enjoy this time as grandparents and try to have fun in your new role. You don't have to parent these children or discipline your grandchildren too much - you just have to love them and nurture them. Let your children make their own mistakes and grow - just as you did when you had your turn as parents!

 

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