Saturday, September 8, 2007

Expert Grandparent Advice

I found this article on the News link on my page. Every once in awhile a helpful article comes along and this one is good.

Wouldn't ya think by this time in our lives we would know it all? I have broken (almost) all the rules this expert talks about, but I'm always willing to keep learning and trying to do whats been proven to get the best results. Maybe this is the wisdom of aging.

National Grandparents Day.
This special day was created to enhance communication between the generations, which includes sharing special talents and passing along family traditions. All are important to children as a means of building a strong sense of family background. While some grandparents might be expecting flowers and cards, it might be beneficial — no matter the grandparenting circumstances — to notice if you're doing your best to be a gracious grandparent.

I had the opportunity recently to meet with about 25 grandparents. They compiled a list of standards for gracious grandparenting, and all hoped to have a relationship with their grandchildren in which all parties — grandchildren, parents and grandchildren — benefit.
From the demographics of the grandparents in the room, it was easy to see that there is no typical grandparent. One grandmother, a college professor, loves talking on the phone to her 5-year-old grandson and loves visiting him and having him come to visit twice yearly, but she finds it important to claim her independence. While she's not a cookie-baking, park-taking or beachcombing grandmother, she likes the fact that her grandson will know her as his adoring grandma who is also a professor, professional writer and speaker.
Another grandfather takes his role seriously — his son abandoned his daughter. Therefore, the grandpa sees his role as the most significant male presence in this little girl's life as extremely important.
While everyone wants children to behave, it's important for the adults raising children to behave as well. Parents need to give their children access to grandparents and, when possible, equal time to both sets of grandparents. And grandparents need to offer their best side to the grandparent-grandchild relationship.
In order to do so, here is a list of guidelines the group came up with for gracious grandparenting:
Be careful when offering advice. Only do so when the grandkids are not present. When offering advice, use "I" statements such as "Here's what I would do." Be tactful, kind and ask first, "Would you like some suggestions?"
Don't undermine the parents' rules, though it's OK to have your own rules, too: "At Grandma's house, there's no jumping on the sofa." Children are fully capable of learning more than one set of house rules.
Know your own limits. If it's too much for you to take care of your grandchildren while your son and daughter-in-law go on vacation, go ahead and say no.
Pass on family history and traditions to your grandchildren.
Provide unconditional love and playfulness.
Validate your child's parenting skills and learn from them new techniques used in parenting today.
Share your unique gifts with your grandchildren, whether it's reading, needlework, cooking, gardening or woodworking.
Remind yourself that you're not the parent and forget about illusions of control.
Resist competing with the other set of grandparents; children need a vast array of people to love and support them.
Carve out a unique relationship with each grandchild; be interested in his or her friends, activities and pastimes.
All the grandparents in the room claimed joy in the relationship with their grandchildren but fully realized the limitations in the relationship. For most this was freeing. Most know and fully enjoy their responsibility, which they say is to develop a relationship with each grandchild by offering their time, interest and attention.
Jan Faull, a specialist in child development and behavior, answers questions of general interest in her column.

You can e-mail her at or write to: Jan Faull, c/o Families, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

Happy grandparents weekend to all!

1 comment:

newgrandparents said...

Your blog resonated with me. I'm a new grandparent but I'm also a daughter, daughter-in-law and once was a grand daughter. So many of your suggestions are so real. I try to live by them but can see in my history certain people seem to have totally gone against them! [No names mentioned!] I have decided I will not put my daughter through th "I'm older therefore I know better" mindset - I let her teach me and mention how different it is now therefore she can decide what to do.

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