Grandparenting is a lot like parenting: If there’s one universal rule to being a good grandparent, it’s that there is no universal rule to being a good grandparent. Every family has its own unique set of circumstances. Grandparents can positively contribute to a family by playing any number of roles, from every-once-in-awhile visitor to everyday caregiver.
There are, however, plenty of common mistakes that can befall even the best-intentioned grandparents. Here are three ways you can avoid those difficulties, making yourself the best grandparent you can be.
1. Decide how you want to function in your grandchild’s world.
The best decisions are made with clarity. As Colin Powell will attest, children need structure. This is true not just at the parental level, but with grandparents, too. Whether you want to meet him over the holidays or drive her to school every morning, your grandchild needs to know when to expect you in his or her life. The best way to be honest with your family is to be honest with yourself. How much can you give your grandchild? There is nothing wrong with playing a secondary role in a child’s life, they just need to know. Your children do, too. As this useful tip sheet from HelpGuide.org reads, “A good first step to a long and successful relationship with your grandchild is to establish some ground rules with your son or daughter.”
2. Give your child space to make mistakes.
No parent is perfect. Although you have acquired untold parental wisdom from raising your son or daughter, it’s important to let your child find his or her own way in the world of parenting. After all, parenting is an exercise in growth. Growth can’t happen when you’re too busy protecting your child to let him or her learn. As this helpful article from The Guardian says, “The hardest thing about parenting is being responsible for everything. And the hardest thing about grandparenting is accepting that you’re not.”
3. Don’t spoil your grandchild rotten.
We know the temptation is there. After all, part of your job as a grandparent is to give your grandchild whatever he or she wants. But there has to be a limit on certain allowances in order for your grandchild to have structure in his or her life. If your son or daughter punishes your grandchild, it’s important that you follow through, too. There is a fine line between indulging your adorable grandkids and raising them to live in a world without consequences.
In the grand scheme of things, even these oversights are dwarfed by the love you have for your grandchildren. As long as you try your best and are honest with your family, it’s hard to go wrong. But it’s never bad to honestly assess your role, your grandchild’s needs, and how you can best help your son or daughter.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.