The To Do list for Grandparents
Before I start lets establish several givens about Grandparents. Some grandparents don’t possess these given traits, and therefor are not the subjects of this article. The first given is that Grandparents want to be a part of their grand-kids’ lives. The second is that they love their grandchildren and want to sacrifice for them. And finally, we have to also assume that these grandparents can be trusted with children, meaning that they are decent decision makers. These are the ground rules that make the following true. I’d like to talk about the part that grandparents play in the raising of their grand-kids, the things they are uniquely able to do for their grand-kids, and also a few pointers about what a grandparent should not be doing. First the please do list.
Let’s not be all uptight about this one. I can’t explain the psychology behind this with any authority, but I do know that grandparents relish each chance they get to spoil the grand-kids. If I had to guess I’d say it’s because they spent so long raising kids themselves and being the responsible party that they feel it’s their right to let loose and be a little crazy. Give them that right; you might as well because it’s going to happen anyway.
Parents always want to be the ones that kids come to for advice, but sometimes there is something a grandparent can help with that the parent cannot. Having somebody nearby who has a whole different set of life experiences can be an invaluable sounding board for opinions and advice. Grandparents should not be shunned but welcomed as another tool that kids can learn from. There is a lot to be said for the wisdom of age. Parents will always be the reigning influence on their kids, but grandparents can make for a great backup.
This goes right along with being available except I am referring to the teaching of actual skills that kids can take into life with them. The very fact that grandparents have lived so long should be a testament to their ability to make a living. They have learned loads of interesting skills that I’m sure they are just itching to pass onto their grand-kids. My dad is an accomplished sailor and woodworker. Those are two things that I am terrible at (despite my dad’s repeated attempts to teach me). There is a very good chance that one or both of those skills will rub off on my kids if my dad will teach them, which he has said will happen.
Grandparents should not…
It is the parents’ job to make rules and to set boundaries. One way to confuse a kid is to be sending mixed signals about the rules from two people he respects very much. He won’t want to disappoint a parent, but he also doesn’t want to disobey a grandparent. What’s a kid to do? That’s just a bad situation and should be avoided. Enough said.
Teach Inconsistent Values
Even though grandma and mom lived in the same house for many years that fact does not mean they hold the exact same values. Say, for instance, mom converted to Judaism after being raised as a Catholic. As much as grandma wants to teach Catholic values to the grand-kids it is not her right to do that. This reminds me of the “All in the Family” episode where Archie takes his grandson to get baptized without Meathead and Gloria’s consent. It is not just religion. These days it could mean environmentalism, politics, or any number of other issues. Grandparents, in this department, should learn to just go with the flow and accept that there are some things that are off limits to them.
Avoiding a few pratfalls will make the parent/grandparent/kid relationship perfect for everybody involved. Grandparents are a great resource to have around. They can do things that a parent cannot get away with. A parent cannot spoil his/her kids with candy and shopping outings every day without serious consequences; grandparents aren’t around all the time and can act as a nice time out from a kid’s everyday routine. Grandparents can also teach their grand-kids lessons and skills that will be valuable later in life. In short, grandparents are a treasure trove of information, skill, love, and support. Maybe we should postpone pushing them onto an ice flow for just a little bit longer!