Next to the parents, grandparents are some of the most important people in a child’s life.
You want to play an integral role and help raise them.
It’s only natural.
However, you must also understand where the boundaries lie, and why you shouldn’t cross them.
You may have imagined that your kids would rely on you for support and advice, and that you and your grandchild would bond instantly, but that’s not always the case.
Here are some common pitfalls you may have committed on the road to grandparenting, and what to do instead.
The Grandparents’ Guide: 5 Mistakes You Shouldn’t Make
1. Don’t Voice Your Opinion on Child-Rearing at Every Opportunity
If you can avoid judging your kids’ parenting style, your relationship will be better off.
It may come from a genuine desire to be helpful, or you may simply disagree with choices they’ve made. Whatever your reasons, it’s better to keep it to yourself and keep the peace.
In this situation, it’s good to remember the boundaries: You are not in charge of raising this child.
You’re a grandparent, not a parent.
Plus, the more you criticize, the more you risk driving your child and grandchild away.
Instead, try to be supportive and offer ways to complement your kids’ parenting choices instead of coming from a place of opposition.
2. Don’t Be a Doormat
Don’t forget to live your own life when you’re a grandparent. Your world shouldn’t revolve around the grandkids, because their lives certainly aren’t going to revolve around you.
Definitely be there for them and cherish your special relationship, but don’t let that veer into becoming a doormat. Don’t provide babysitting services if you don’t want to, and don’t make sacrifices because of a sense of obligation.
On the other hand, if you’re happy to sacrifice some of your time and energy for the sake of your grandkids, that’s your call. Just don’t let someone else make that decision for you.
3. Don’t Compete with Other Grandparents
There are all kinds of family situations.
You may live down the block from your child and grandchild, or across the country. You may be the only living grandparent, or you may be one among a full force of grandparents, step-grandparents, and grandparent figures.
Whatever the scenario, it’s important not to compete for the attention and affection of your grandkids.
It’s natural to secretly want to be the “favorite grandma/grandpa,” but manifesting that attitude in your life is unhealthy for both you and your family dynamics.
You may not live as close as you would like or get to spend as much quality time. But, letting your jealousy of the other grandparents who can do those things will only overshadow your relationship with your grandkids.
Not to mention, instead of achieving this longed-for status, you’ll only end up making your grandkids feel pressured and uncomfortable.
Instead of competing, focus on building the best relationship you can with your family members.
The uniqueness of your bond will set you apart, not the fact that you buy more gifts or pay for more outings.
4. Don’t Be Demanding
Don’t be pushy and insist on quality time whenever there’s a free second in the day. This may accomplish the opposite effect and make the parents withdraw.
Of course, it’s important to let them know you’re available and keep that invitation out there, but rely on them to come to you.
Your success as a grandparent does not depend on how often you see your grandkids, but rather the quality of the time you do get to see them.
5. Don’t Ignore Parental Rules
You may think it’s a good idea to drop all the rules when your grandkids visit with you so you can be known as the “fun grandparent,” but that’s disrespectful of the parents. It’s also crossing the line.
Some rules you may not be inclined to follow, but should, could include rules about snacks, TV time, screen time, and bedtime.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have different rules than the parents, though. The rules you set just can’t be counter-intuitive to the ones the parents uphold.
Your Place as a Grandparent
Keep in mind that these “don’ts” won’t apply to every person and every family situation.
For instance, if you are a major caretaker in your grandkids’ lives, you’re helping your child raise a child. Of course, you’ll set rules and have a huge say in how they’re brought up.
Knowing your place just takes some common-sense and boundary evaluation. Consider your relationship with your child and what makes sense for you two when the time comes to bond with your grandchildren.