Are you crossing the boundaries for grandparents? Do you have a tendency to go overboard? Are you a zealous, excited Grandma or are you an OVERzealous Grandma? Let’s talk about setting boundaries for Grandparents who interfere with parenting.
When Grandparents Interfere with Parenting
Let me tell you upfront.
I could very well be an overzealous Grandma.
I may have crossed the boundaries for grandparents and tried to be an overly involved grandparent.
And not just once. Can’t believe it? Well, it’s true…
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Having Grandchildren is a life-changing adventure, full of opportunities for fun, growth, love, and learning.
These are precious children, taking on the world with the help of their family and the village around them.
Watching them change, grow, develop into real people, and become their own unique selves is amazing!
I am blessed with a very understanding, patient, and respectful son and daughter-in-law who are wonderful parents to my Grandchildren.
As a Grandparent, the goal is to be a source of support, family connection, and love.
To do this tactfully, skillfully, and without interference, is an art that is developed over time.
By understanding each other, expressing our concerns constructively, and making compromises, we can find our place and become a united, solid foundation of love and support for the littlest family members with the child’s best interest in mind.
My hope is that together we find a way for both sides to contribute to the success and well-being of these children we all love dearly.
In the beginning.
Looking back over the years, I can tell you, I was somewhat of a helicopter mom. (I know, son, I know…)
I’m probably that way with my Grands, too, on occasion making me the overzealous Grandma. Ok, maybe often.
When you first become a Grandparent, all of the parenting memories come flooding back.
You realize how much you learned along the way, relive the mistakes you made and want to share all of your parenting knowledge with these newbies.
But think back, too, about the way you felt when your own children were born.
Help was welcome and well-received at first, but as we became a little more confident in the role of parent, we wanted to do things for ourselves.
Your adult children, who are now new parents, feel the same way.
What is the best way to accomplish this?
Here are some of my ideas, from a “sometimes overzealous” Grandmas’s perspective and a list of boundaries for grandparents, ways to communicate, and how you can strive to make this special role of Grandparenting thing work.
*** PLEASE read the entire piece before you jump to any conclusions. Let’s explore both sides and find solutions to benefit both parents AND Grandparents!
What Grandma sees…
I feel extremely blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference in my grandchildren’s lives.
They bring joy, pride, and a ton of warm fuzzies with them.
Grandmas want their Grandchildren to be happy, healthy, and to feel loved.
Sometimes we are zealous.
Sometimes we are OVERzealous, it’s true.
But Grandparents have good intentions.
We want to do these things:
Share what we know.
Grandparents most often become Grandparents only after having children of their own.
We’ve been there, done that.
Experience and wisdom come with time.
When I offer suggestions, it’s not because you aren’t competent or able to make your own decisions.
I want to give you insights, knowledge, and helpful hints so you don’t make the same mistakes in your journey.
Grandparents want to share their knowledge.
Make my Grands happy.
Smiling is my favorite.
I want my Grandkids to be happy when they are with me.
Sometimes, I go overboard by indulging their wants instead of respecting their needs.
I let them stay up later than they should, have too much screen time, let them have a piece of candy or a donut, or buy things they don’t really need.
Because we love them, Grandparents want Grandkids to be happy.
Make your life easier.
Raising kids can be challenging, to say the least.
Having a supportive network of family and friends can ease the load every once in a while.
You aren’t alone in the process.
Ask me to babysit so you can have a date night together.
Let me pick up the kids when you’re running late.
When I offer to help, it’s not because I want to do it for you or to replace you as the child’s parents.
I truly want to help.
Tell me what I can do to make your life easier.
Grandparents want to help.
Studies have shown that when Grandparents are involved in a child’s life, there are positive benefits to emotional, physical and overall health.
Not just for the Grandchildren, but for the Grandparents as well.
I want to cuddle with them. Read to them.
I want to play. To come to their ballgames and dance recitals. To see them grow.
My intention is to show them my interest in what they are doing, to love and support them in their endeavors.
Grandparents want to be involved.
Children need to feel attachment, belonging, and connection.
The more kids know about their past, the greater a connection they feel to their roots.
Passing down the knowledge we have about our family history and how they came to be, creates the opportunity for them to connect with us, even when we are gone.
Grandparents want to tell Grandchildren about their family’s past.
It feels good to help.
We want to find our place in the chain of people caring for these children.
I appreciate that you let me in and accept my love and help.
A Grandmother, or anyone else for that matter, will love to feel needed.
What a Parent sees…
Are you an overzealous Grandma? This might be what their parents see.
Grandparents going overboard, trying to buy their way into the hearts of their Grandkids and giving in easily to the requests and puppy dog eyes can have unwanted consequences.
A parent will see this as a lack of respect for them and the rules they have set for their children.
Overindulging can make the parents feel like they have to compete with you.
Don’t make their parents look like the bad guy.
“Daddy is mean, but Grandma is nice and lets me stay up late!”
If you want to indulge occasionally, ask permission.
Respect the rules the parents have set for gifts, snacks, bedtime and the like.
Kids actually appreciate boundaries and like knowing what to expect.
Being a parent is a difficult job. Make it easier for them by sticking with the guidelines set by your Grandchild’s parents.
Avoid overindulgence. Enjoy your Grandchildren in other ways.
When parents are present, let them handle discipline and other issues that may arise.
Resist the urge to meddle and give unsolicited advice. This is not your child.
You are the grandparents, not the parent.
If you are asked for advice, give it cautiously and tactfully.
They will make mistakes, just as you once did.
And they will navigate the waters until they have gained the needed confidence and knowledge, just as you did.
Allow them the room to make their own path without interference from you.
Don’t interfere. Allow the parents to be the parents.
You may not agree with every decision the parents make for your Grandchildren.
Don’t be harsh and judgmental.
Because their choices differ from yours, it doesn’t make them wrong.
Bite your tongue if you need to, but remember your place.
Advances have been made, times are different.
We don’t live in the world of 30 years ago.
Allow your Grandchildren to benefit from the changes, research, and developments available today.
Your choices for your own children may not be the best for children today.
Don’t pass judgment. Trust the parents to make good choices.
Implications of inadequacy
When you overindulge, interfere, and become judgemental, this sends a message to your children.
The message is that you lack faith in their ability to raise their own offspring, leading to annoyance, frustration, and resentment.
Even if you mean well and are trying to help, these things can undermine their confidence in themselves and cause them to push you away.
Show confidence in your Grandchild’s parents.
Overusing social media
Have you ever posted something about your grandchild and their parents asked you to take it down?
Before posting on social media, consider these things:
Is this news that THEY might want to share?
Is your post appropriate?
Do you have privacy settings in place on your post?
Will this embarrass your grandchild in front of friends, when they go for a job interview, or could it be used inappropriately by a stranger?
All of these things should be considered before posting anything about your Grandchild on social media. You may even want to ask permission from their parents.
What can you do?
Both parents and Grandparents can take responsibility, make an effort and bring about a happy relationship.
Grandparents want to spend time with their grandchildren. Spending time together can be negotiated, too – how much is enough time, too much time, or just the right amount of time. That’s a decision you need to make together with the child’s parents.
By setting a few rules for grandparents, boundaries for overzealous grandmas, and making your feelings clear (but certainly not hurtful), you can avoid minor disagreements and find the best world for everyone.
Grandchildren will benefit the most when their family finds ways to be respectful, cooperative and loving.
What can Grandparents do?
Being the Grandparent is actually much more fun than being the parent.
To make the most of your time with your Grandchildren, start with your relationship with their parents.
Approach the subject with an open mind and have a open conversation about your grandparenting roles and expectations.
Express your desires: to be involved and spend time with your Grandchildren, to share your knowledge, to help out when you are needed, and be a support to their parents.
Ask for permission instead of automatically implementing your own plans, rules, or decisions.
Give advice sparingly, when asked, and don’t be offended if your advice is not taken.
Help them. Let the child’s parents know that they can call you when they need help.
Don’t go overboard or overindulge your Grandchildren. Instead of physical gifts, give your time and attention.
Listen to your Grandchild’s parents. Be respectful of the family rules and their parental authority and any parent requests. Be kind, don’t pass judgment.
We may have different ideas about what is best, but in the end, it’s up to them and their parenting choices.
Reinforce your confidence in your children’s ability to raise their own kids by praising their good decisions, allowing them to make their own choices for their offspring, and supporting them in front of your Grandchildren.
And don’t be offended when they actually tell you what they want, whether it is for you to step up or to back off. Respect their parents’ requests and rules.
Grandparenting is an important role and responsibility.
Post with care on social media. Think twice about posting photos or comments that might be inappropriate or cause conflict.
Communicating with each other is the key to a successful family partnership.
What can parents do?
Your child’s Grandparents mean well.
See their intentions. They have good intentions and want the best for your child.
Their role has changed. As a new Grandparent, they, too, are navigating their new grandparenting role and finding their way through the maze of rights and wrongs.
Look for motivation. Instead of being frustrated by them, try to see what is motivating your parent.
Let them be involved. Appreciate their desire to be involved in your child’s life, but help them find their place by communicating with them and allowing special time for them to be with their grandchildren.
Talk about your expectations and set boundaries for the grandparents, even before your child is born.
Discuss the role they will play in the life of your child before there are major disagreements that put serious strain on your family relationships. Be clear.
Let them help, but be specific about your needs.
Ask their advice once in a while, even if you have no intention of taking it.
Their ideas may be old-fashioned and even obsolete, but again, you might be surprised by their wisdom and insight.
Let them be grandparents. Allow them to occasionally indulge your children, but within the limits you set yourself.
If you are unhappy with the Grandparents, express yourself firmly and diplomatically, but with kindness.
Note your appreciation of their intentions, but gently reinforce your position.
If this doesn’t get results, or the infraction is so severe, you must confront them openly and head-on, even if feelings are hurt.
While some parents and Grandparents may never see eye to eye, there may always be tension and conflict, most have the same desires for these children: to see them happy, healthy, well-adjusted and full of life.
We all want to serve the child’s best interests.
As time has passed since becoming a Grandmother, I realize that I’ve crossed some lines, and not always been perfect.
But we’ve navigated the rules, the lines, the potholes, and pitfalls together.
We have learned more about ourselves and our ways.
I am not perfect, don’t claim to be, and, though I may get close, perfection is always going to be just out of reach.
Therefore, we learn, we talk, we grow and know that we each have different roles to play in the lives of these little people.
I hope that with gentle nudges, I can always stay within the range of “acceptable” behavior and keep a close, loving relationship with my children and Grandchildren.
Patience, understanding, and a dose of kindness go a long way in keeping families together and functioning.
Zealous or Overzealous
Take your role of Grandmothering seriously, being sure to stay within the respectful boundaries for Grandparents.
Be zealous in your commitment to building a strong connection with your Grandchildren.
Be zealous in your love and affection for them.
But find the line between being a zealous Grandma and being an overzealous Grandma.
Do the things that are in the best interest of the child. Always.
Your children and Grandchildren will appreciate your efforts!
Keep Passing Down the Love,
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