In our FirstLantic blog last week, we focused on how to speak with your parents about uncomfortable topics. And while that may be challenging, it could be even harder to discuss certain subjects with your own children such as their approach to parenting. One of the biggest benefits of being a grandparent is that you can spend your time spoiling instead of disciplining, however, there are boundaries that you have to respect especially as it comes to rules and structure that have been established. The last thing that you want to do is ignore your children’s wishes or undermine them. So what are some things that you should keep in mind to ensure that you maintain a positive relationship?
First of all, respect boundaries. You are now the grandparent and not the parent. That means, that your children have to be given flexibility to make their own decisions as to the style and approach that they take. Constantly telling them about how it was done in your day is not going to be welcomed. In fact, it can cause resentment and friction. There were probably a lot of times when you wished that your own parents would have limited their “advice” so don’t perpetuate that same pattern.
Secondly, times have changed and you need to get on board with that. Every other day there is a new book that comes out on parenting techniques and each generation approaches it differently. Your children are going to be experimenting until they find what works best for them. Let’s face it, there is no way to ever be the perfect parent but that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn along the way. Let your kids have the chance to figure out what works best for them and their family and respect the fact that it is going to be different from the way it was when you were younger. You might even want to take a look at a few of the latest books or parenting blogs yourself to gain some additional insight. See some suggested resources at the end of this blog.
Lastly, broach difficult topics sooner rather than later. If there are things that you absolutely feel must be discussed, don’t wait until you have built resentment over it. Take your child to lunch or a neutral place where you both can have a productive discussion. Trying to discuss an issue when they are frazzled and are trying to get the kids ready for school is not going to be the right time. Once you are in a place where you can speak calmly, start the conversation out on a positive note and tell them how proud you are of them as a parent. Share your own stories about challenges that you faced and the mistakes that you may have made. Let them know that you are always there to offer advice if they are dealing with a particularly difficult situation. And always avoid hints of condescension.
Your role as a grandparent can be one of the most fulfilling that you will ever have. However, you have to remember that you have had the opportunity to raise your children the way that you saw fit and now it is your children’s turn. There is never just one right way to approach something so you have to trust your children and their instincts (as hard as that may be sometimes).