The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Tips for Grandparents

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tips for Grandparents

Most of my blog entries have involved parents or teachers interacting with their young people. Today's blog is about grandparenting ... not because I've joined the ranks of happy grandparents, but becuase I had the misfortune of sitting at a restaurant booth back to back with the most annoying grandfather I've ever met.

Throughout lunch, he TOLD his three-year-old granddaughter what she should do (my comments in parentheses): Eat with your fork (sometimes it's okay to use your fingers), eat your soup first then your salad (Really? What does it matter?), show Grandma how you can be a big girl (he never did tell her what he expected of that big girl behavior), tell Grandma what you did in preschool (a question about her week would have been so much more effective), and the list went on and on and on and on throughout the meal.  Maybe because I am super-sensitive to allowing children to make their own decisions, but I found this man to be extremely obnoxious and wondered how Grandma stayed with him for so long!

So the reason for this rant is to provide grandparents with some guidelines for interacting with their grandchildren:
  1. Remember that you are the grandparent, not the parent.  Gentle discipline is acceptable, but leave the heavy duty discipline to Mom or Dad.
  2. Ask whether your grandchild wants to make a craft, sing a song, do a puzzle, hear a story, or (God forbid) watch TV with you.  Let the child decide, rather than saying, "Let's read a story while Mommy takes a shower."
  3. Don't walk in the door with a present every time you visit.  You don't want your grandchildren to become mercenaries, expecting a gift every time they see you.  It should be enough that you are there for them to enjoy.
  4. The rules have changed for some child care techniques.  For example, babies are now placed on their back to sleep, some older cribs do not meet modern standards, and children must be appropriately buckled in an approved seat when riding in a car.  If you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask your son or daughter.  And don't be offended if they don't want the crib they slept in as babies. 
  5. Avoid telling your son or daughter how to parent.  Remember, they learned from you how to raise a child.  If you did your job, they'll do their job just fine.  However, if they ask for advice, go ahead and give them the benefit of the wisdom of your years!
  6. What will your grandchildren call you?  Anything that makes you and them feel comfortable.  There's Grandma, Nona, and Momom.  Or Grandpa, Poppy, and simply Pops.  Personally, I think adding the first or last name like Granny Miller is not as informal as simply Granny.  If there are two Grannys in the family, one can be Granny and the other might be Momom.
  7. Don't be a yes-man.  Kids will see you as a pushover and will literally walk all over you.  You wouldn't have done that for your own kids; don't do it to your grandchildren when you watch them. 
  8. It's so easy to go overboard on birthdays and Christmas. I admit I'm guilty on that count!  However, there's a limit to how much I'll spend.  Each grandparent knows what he or she can afford and should stick to the limit, even if it means each of the twelve grandchildren get only one small present at Christmas.
  9. Speaking of presents, try to give presents that encourage creativity and have more than a single purpose.  Your grandchildren will get more miles of fun for your money.
  10. Above all, enjoy your grandchildren.  Laugh with them, play with them, and teach them that life is definitely good!
Happy grandparenting!

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