Grandparenting Tips to Avoid Making Mistakes

Just when you’ve made all the mistakes you can make as a parent, and you finally feel that you have it all together, your kids grow up and leave the nest, and before long they have made you grandparents. Now you have to start a brand new learning process. But do you really have to make all those common mistakes grandparents typically make? You have a wealth of experience to draw from. You can prepare yourself to anticipate those mistakes and overcome them before they actually happen, saving yourselves a lot of heartache and frustration.

Here is a list of common grandparent blunders:

“I’m a grandparent; I have a right to spoil my grandchildren.” You’ve probably heard this saying a hundred times or more. But is it true? You’ve been the parent. How did it feel when someone ignored the rules you had carefully set for your family? If grandma or grandpa said, “Awe, rules were meant to be broken,” did you smile in delight, or did you wonder whether that philosophy would attach itself to your child and produce a lawbreaker?

Grandparents have a right to give their grandchildren lots of love and cuddles, but that’s not spoiling a child, it’s called nurturing, and nurturing is great. You would have wanted plenty of it for your own children, but spoiling, as the word implies, can do damage that you may be sorry for later.

If your son or daughter has set rules for their children, honor their rules. It is a way you can show your respect for them, and in doing so, you will be teaching your grandchildren that their parents deserve respect. Don’t ever criticize their rules, or you will be causing them to loose respect in the eyes of their children. Build up the parents in the eyes of their kids; never tear down.

Don’t ever say, “payback time!” when referring to something you are doing with your grandchildren. The last thing you want is to allow your children to think you hold something against them from their childhood. No matter how jokingly it is said, it always carries some real meaning with it and can reopen wounds that may never heal. Your child may respond by bragging about former naughtiness, but this will only encourage your grandchild to want to be just like Mom or Dad at their naughtiest. This is definitely a direction you do not want to go if you love your grandchild.  You will be just as grieved if your grandchild messes up his or her life as if it was your own child, because your grandchild is still a part of you.

Another mistake grandparents sometimes make falls on the other end of the scale. It is so tempting to take your painfully earned wisdom of parenting and force it on your children; after all, it could save them so much heartache if only they would follow your advice. But the sad truth is that they probably will not accept it, at least not if you shove it at them. All it will do is build a wall between you and your son or daughter, and cause hard feelings that will ripple on down to your grandchildren.

If you want to teach your son or daughter parenting skills, do it quietly and by example, or find a gentle way to suggest changes without finding fault. Remember that it takes a breaking of pride to accept advise from parents. You need to find a way around that pride if you want to avoid resentment.

Some grandparents make the mistake of being pushovers. They allow their children to walk all over them. They wind up with the job of parenting all over again because their children have not bothered to accept responsibility for their own children. There is no easy solution to this problem. No parent wants to see their grandchildren neglected.

If you are in this type of situation you need to be firm with your children and let them know exactly how much you are prepared to do as a grandparent. Explain that you do not want to burn out, and even though you love your grandchildren, you are not able to be their full time parent. Do this in love, not with antagonism. Love, given freely, will smooth out many touchy situations.

Don’t babysit your grandchildren without an understanding between you and their parents. Children need some form of discipline to keep themselves in check and to help them learn what is acceptable behavior and what is not. If your hands are tied and you are expected to control them without any form of disciplinary measures you will probably become cross with them, taking out your frustrations on them in the wrong way. Settle the type of discipline the parents will allow before you babysit, and then make sure you are consistent with any rules you set in your home. This will make babysitting a pleasure in the future rather than something to endure.

Don’t let anything stop you from enjoying your grandchildren. The biggest mistake you can make as a grandparent is to fail to take every opportunity that presents itself to spend time with your grandchildren. They are your heritage, your offspring; they should be your joy.

And they will be a joy to you, if you cultivate their friendship while they are young. Not only will they benefit from a close relationship to their grandparents, but they will also be a special blessing to you as you start to grow older, a ray of sunlight in a world of coming dusk. There is nothing so sweet as the words, “Grandma, I love you,” or, “I love you, Grandpa.”

Being a grandparent can be a wonderful, rewarding experience. If you avoid these common mistakes grandparents make, you will find that grandparenting is a truly delightful topping to the cake of family life.