Grandparents Rights when Living with Grandchildren

A prerogative is a distinctively superior advantage or a privilege given to a person because of rank, class or, in the case of grandparents, family ties. It’s wonderful to have close access to a grandchild and to be able to dote on them in the special way only grandparents can, which I have been able to do. I don’t think I would have as much access if I didn’t keep in mind that the child is being raised by the parents and I am providing a supportive role. I am not the expert, even though I have had years of childrearing experience.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to be part of the upbringing of all four of my grandchildren. I’ve lived with the three oldest grandchildren at one point in their life and am currently living with my son, daughter-in-law and their 15-month old toddler. 

The reason it works so well is that I accept that my prerogatives as a grandmother are dependent on my respect for, and adherence to, the wishes of the parents. When they are present, I follow their lead. When I am left with my darling grandson, I know what the routine is and I follow it. I do so out of respect for them and an understanding that consistency is important to the child.

I was able to model some of my grand-mothering as a mother-in-law after my mother-in-law, who always referred to me a ‘kid’. She knew how to make suggestions without sounding like she was criticizing me and at times I took her advice and at times I didn’t. My rule-of thumb now is to wait to be asked for input. The few times I’ve forgotten to wait and, without thinking, piped in with what I thought was a useful suggestion, have not been well received. My son took me aside and reminded me that if they needed my help they would ask

It was decidedly a different situation in my daughter’s home when I lived there for two years. It was easier to know when to offer support and suggestions because I had actually raised her and we were in sync about many things. I do remember however, disciplining one of my granddaughters and having her say “I’m right here, Mom.” It takes self-discipline for me to shift between watching the grandchildren on my own and then being part of the family dynamics when we are all together.

I owe it to both my son and daughter-in-law, as well as to my daughter and son-in-law, to allow them the dignity of raising their children in the way they deem appropriate. In return, I have been blessed to have countless hours of watching my grandchildren play, learn and grow. That is a prerogative I am delighted to claim.