“Help! Since my baby was born, my mother has been over almost every day. She’s always giving advice, taking over the baby’s care, and bringing armloads of gifts. How can I get her to slow down?”
Let’s not talk about your mother for a minute. I’d like you to think instead about the incredible love you feel for your child. Now, imagine that you watch your baby grow from infant to toddler, and through the years to the time when your baby isn’t a baby any longer. Through the days and nights of everyday life, you pour 20 or more years of this love into your child.
Then your child has a baby: your grandchild! Do you want to rush over to your child’s home and give advice, help with the baby’s care and bring armloads of gifts? Come on, now, admit it: Of course you do!
The Value of the Grand Relationship
If your baby is lucky enough to have a grandmother or grandfather (or several!) in her life, the benefits she’ll enjoy from this unique relationship are many. All grandparents are different and each relationship will have its own special value, but here are some of the common traits of the grand relationship:
- Unconditional love
The love between grandparent and grandchild is often total and unconditional. Grandparents have a bond to your baby that encompasses their love for you and their love for your child love that conveys itself to your child with every hug, every word, and every smile.
- Fun without strings
Grandparents often bring playfulness to the relationship. They have had their turn raising children and often feel that they can relax and enjoy the moments without having to focus on the teaching, setting limits, and enforcing discipline that parenting entails. It’s a benefit for children to have this person with whom they can let their hair down and relax.
- Fun without the stress of time
Grandparents often move at a slower pace than parents do. If this is so in your family, your child can enjoy a special relaxed and lingering quality to the time she shares with her grandparents.
- A sense of history
Grandparents are a link to the history of a family – stories about the background, rituals, and eccentricities that weave the rich tapestry of a family. Grandparents can instill a feeling of belonging and teach children about their roots.
- Respect for and understanding of the aging process
Children who have a close relationship with grandparents accept aging as natural. From the time the kids are young, they know their grandparents simply as people. This relationship helps them accept and appreciate the differences between generations.
Practical Tips for Relating to Grandparents
As happy as you may be with the wonderful bond between your child and her grandparents, you’ll still need some practical ideas for handling the day-to-day issues that may arise. Here are quick tips.
- Different opinions about child-rearing.
Grandparents have raised their children, and you’re just getting started, so that makes them feel like they have the wisdom to share. Parenting has changed with the times but don’t discount a grandparent’s advice without considering it. You just may find a gem of parenting brilliance in a grandparent’s advice.
- Showering with attention.
If you’re concerned about a grandparent who gushes over your little one as if she were the only baby on earth, the best advice I can give you is: Enjoy it! Your child can benefit from the attention of someone who thinks your child can do no wrong. It can give her a feeling of self-worth that can’t ever be taken away.
- Bearing excessive gifts.
A little bit of “spoiling” is a good thing. And letting the grandparents know that you appreciate their generosity is important (and good for your children to model). If you feel that a few too many toys are coming your way, though, you might tactfully suggest that the best gift for your child is the time the grandparents can spend with him. If they are intent on spending their money, you might suggest they lean towards books, educational games, clothing or the possibility of a college savings account for your child.
- Rules? What rules?
Some grandparents have so much fun with the grandchildren that you can’t believe they’re the same people who demanded your adherence to a hundred rules when you were growing up…none of which seem to apply to your children. The answer to this issue is to choose your battles wisely, and address those that are most important to you. Battling over a few extra cookies probably isn’t worth the friction it would create, but mandatory sunscreen and hat for a day at the beach is an issue worth addressing.
- Differing expectations
Whether you think the grandparents spend too much time around your house, or don’t see the children often enough, you may find that the expectations of the relationship differ by side. Attempting to understand the other person’s point of view and encouraging open conversation are the keys to finding the right balance for everyone’s needs.
Share: What tips do you have for overenthusiastic grandparents?
*Please note: All these grandparent photos are to enhance the reading experience. All of these grandparents shown are wonderful — and the article is not about them!