Parenting - The Role Of Grandparents In The Parenting Equation
Grandparents can be a boon and a blessing, especially to new parents, but they can also bring a raft of problems into an already difficult situation. The secret is to learn the art of getting grandparents to work with you rather than against you.
Grandparents have a very special role to play in the parenting equation and can be extraordinarily helpful, but they can also place parents in the position of feeling a little bit like middle management with all the problems that this can bring. So how do you ensure that you and your children receive all of the good things which grandparents can bring to your lives while at the same time minimizing the difficulties that they can also bring to the parenting mix?
Grandparents have the advantage of wisdom which they have acquired over long years of experience and many of the seemingly major problems which you face as new parents will have a simple solution to a grandparent who has seen the problem before. Being able to turn to grandparents as a first port of call when faced with a problem can be both extremely helpful and comforting.
Many parents also lead extremely busy lives these days and frequently both parents will be working and have careers of their own. Being able to call on grandparents to help with many of the practical day to day problems that this poses can also be extremely valuable.
Most of the problems that arise will do so because grandparents can find it difficult to accept that their job as your parents is essentially done and that, having brought you up and set you on the right path, it is now time to step back and let you get on with leading your own life. They are still your parents of course and will love you just as they have always done and will always be there for you if you need them, but their role now is to take a back seat and to step in when and only when you ask for their help. For many grandparents this presents more than a little difficulty.
In some cases dealing with 'interfering' grandparents is not too difficult and all that is needed is to sit down quietly with them and to have a 'diplomatic' word in their ear. At other times however the temptation for them to interfere is simply too strong and no matter how many diplomatic words you have with them you simply can't stop them from throwing in their two cents worth and lending a hand.
In this latter case it's often a good idea to take a moment to examine the situation carefully before getting too worked up.
In the vast majority of cases grandparents simply want what is best for their grandchildren and, while it is often quite a natural reaction to see their advice as interference, more often than not if you stop to think about it you'll find that their advice does have some, if not considerable, merit.
It is also quite natural for your annoyance at their interference to overwhelm your normal sense of objectivity. As a result, minor and inconsequential issues can quickly assume an importance which they simply don't warrant.
Grandparents are individuals in their own right with their own thoughts, views, opinions and wishes and while these won't always coincide with your own they need to be respected. When grandparents want to do something that you would prefer them not to do, take a moment to consider whether or not this is really going to do any harm or is something that you honestly feel strongly about. If it's something that you yourself wouldn't have done but which nonetheless won't do any harm or cause a problem then is it really worth getting worked up about it?
Even in cases where you believe the actions of grandparents might cause a problem it is usually possible to find a compromise that everybody is happy with. Suppose, for example, that they want to give your son a bicycle for his birthday but that you feel that he is still too young. Rather than simply reject this idea, the secret is to steer them in another direction. In this case you might suggest that what your son really needs is an activity center you've seen which would not only give him endless hours of fun but would also help him to develop his reading skills. Simply planting this idea in their minds and leaving them with the option to buy your son a bicycle at a later date will probably do the trick.
From time to time you may run into problems which initial probing indicates are not going to be quite so easy to resolve. When this happens the solution lies, as it does with most problems in life, in finding common ground and this is simple when it comes to disagreements between parents and grandparents. Whatever individual issues you may have or differences of opinion there may be both of you will have the best interests of the grandchildren uppermost in your minds. As long as both parties are reminded of this fact it is usually quite easy to resolve most issues.
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