Single parent interaction with grandparents can present challenges

Grandparents are wonderful blessings and much needed support for struggling single parents, yet some are difficult problems for the single parent home. Many offer a mixed bag of badly needed help while giving unsolicited advice and butting into areas that cause conflict in the home. These relationships don’t come with a play book and single parents must learn to deal with the situation while keeping a balance in the home.

If you’re blessed with the wonderful kind of grandparents, give thanks immediately because that is not true of all single parents. Fighting the world in an effort to survive and standing up to parents or the parents of your ex-spouse while preserving the family is extremely harrowing.

Shared responsibility between grandparents and single parents deal with safety, wellness, and interaction. Some issues are not flash points for disagreements like the practical elements of childcare. Where we disagree mainly is with allowed and disallowed behavior. It’s true, some grandparents are over indulgent while others are strict disciplinarians. Some are wonderful coaches and some control freaks.

The relational aspect with grandparents is sometimes troubling but ultimately it is the parent who takes responsibility for the safety and well being of our children and, with that in mind, our decisions on how much time to allow grandparent interaction with our children is vitally important.

Your Parents as grandparents: Supportive and respectful interaction in your own childhood home sets your mind at ease when your children go off to visit grandma and grandpa because you know that’s what you can expect from your parents as grandparents.

As a rule your parents will have more access to your children. You already know how they’ll relate to your children and if in doubt about permissiveness, you have opportunity to observe how they interact and the opportunity to discuss the relationship with your parents on a rational level.

Troubled past relationships with our parents, might mean that we limit the time our parents spend with our children. In extreme cases where abuse has been a part of your childhood, you may choose to cut all ties. While extreme, the physical and emotional safety of our children comes first. These are exceptional circumstances.

If your parent is controlling, you face the possibility of interference with your parenting choices for your children. It’s difficult to stand up to controlling parents, but it’s a problem that won’t go away on its own and will escalate if not addressed. Stand up for your family and make your priority known. You hold the leverage in this situation.

Ex-spouse parents as grandparents:

When the welfare of the child is a priority, the other grandparents can be a gift to your children and to you. If they live in close proximity, they often provide childcare, companionship, and emotional support for their grandchildren. They choose to put away their personal feelings for the good of the children.

The other grandparents can present unique problems. These problems are manifest in visitation time, competitiveness with your parents, and in the worst case, vilifying you as the reason for separation or divorce. Not all grandparents fit this mold of course, but when they do, it can tear down relationships and create division in the single parent home.

When grandparents compete for the affection of grandchildren, the solution is not always easy. Addressing negative behavior is more easily done, but when behavior is cloaked in generosity, the situation calls for utmost wisdom. You can’t change their attitudes, but you have the final say in appropriate gifts for your children.

Finally there exists another kind of grandparent, the disengaged grandparent. They may be busy with their careers or they might live across the country. Even if they live nearby, there is little a parent can do to foster a relationship where none exists. It’s a sad reality that we deal with in an imperfect world.

Whether they are your parents or the parents of your ex-spouse, grandparents are a great resource and immense help when they work together for the well being of the children. Many of us are blessed with shining examples of sacrificial giving of grandparents. We’re thankful.

Grandparents are just people with flaws and imperfections like everyone else. Keep that in mind and you’ll find a way to deal with them fairly.