Monday, January 01, 2007

The Role Of Grandparents In The Parenting Equation

Grandparents play a very important role to in the parenting equation and can be extremely helpful. However, they can also put parents into a 'middle management' position with all the problems that this entails. So just how can you benefit from all of the good things which grandparents can bring into your life and the lives of your children while at the same time avoiding the problems that they can also bring with them?

Over the years grandparents gain considerable wisdom from their own experience of parenting and many of the problems which you face as new parents and which seem quite major will have a simple solution to a grandparent who has seen the problem before. The fact that you are able to turn to grandparents when a problem arises can be both helpful and extremely comforting.

Many parents also lead very busy lives today and often both parents will have careers of their own. The fact that you can call on grandparents to assist with many of the practical daily problems that this poses can also be extremely valuable.

Many of the problems which do arise do so because grandparents don't always find that it is easy to accept that their job as your parents is largely finished and that, having raised you and set you on the right path, it is now time to take a back seat and let you lead your own life. They will always be your parents of course and will continue to love you just as they have always done and will be there for you when you need them. However, their job now is to stand back and to step in only when you need them and when you ask for their help. For many grandparents this isn't easy to accept.

Dealing with the problem of 'interfering' grandparents isn't always difficult and, in many cases, all that is needed is a 'diplomatic' word in their ear. Sometimes however the temptation for them to step in is simply too strong and no matter how diplomatic you are they simply can't help themselves from adding their two cents worth and from lending a helping hand.

When this happens it's often a good idea to take a moment to look at the situation carefully before getting too worked up.

In most cases grandparents merely want what is best for their grandchildren and, although it is often quite a natural reaction to view their advice as interference, generally if you pause to think about it you'll see that their advice does have some, often considerable, merit.

It is also normal for you to allow your annoyance at their interference to overwhelm your sense of objectivity. When this happens, quite minor issues can quickly take on an importance which they don't warrant.

Grandparents have their own views, opinions and desires and while these will not always coincide with your own they still need to be respected. When grandparents decide that they want to do something which you would prefer them not to do, then you need to take a moment to consider whether or not this is going to do any harm or whether it is something that you really feel strongly about. If it is something that you would probably not do but which nonetheless will not do any harm or cause a problem then is it worth getting yourself worked up about it?

Where you feel that the grandparents' actions might cause a problem it is usually possible to find a compromise which everyone is happy with. For example, suppose they want to give your son a bicycle for Christmas but that you feel that he is too young. Rather than simply reject this idea, the secret to this problem lies in steering them in a different direction. You might for example suggest that what your son really needs this year is an activity center which you've seen and which would give him countless hours of fun and would also assist him in developing his reading skills. Merely putting this idea in their heads and leaving them with the option to buy a bicycle at a later date will probably solve the problem.

Occasionally you will run into problems which are not going to be quite so easy to solve. When this happens the solution can often be found by looking for common ground and this is easy when it comes to differences of opinion between parents and grandparents. Whatever your difference of opinion you will both have the best interests of the children uppermost in your minds and, as long as both of you are reminded of this fact, it is usually quite easy to find a solution to most issues.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Well, in raising children, there comes a time when conflict comes between the parents and the grandparents. Conflicts arises when it comes to disciplining the child, or when it comes to the gifting of material things, because grandparents sometimes tend to spoil the child. At times like this, parents and grandparents need to meet halfway and consider what is best for the child.

Alice Byrne

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