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A Grandparent's Dilemma: Knowing Your Place

Grandma Moses Knowses About Minding Her Business!

Grandma Moses Knowses About Minding Her Business!

It is true what they say. Grandchildren are the jewels in our crowns as parents.

While my few short years as a grandmother have brought far more blessings than heartaches, there have nonetheless been a few challenges, the greatest of which has been figuring out when I can continue the ever so fleeting remnant of my role as a parent and offer advice, and when I must remain unconditionally silent.

Is there even ever a situation that could compel my loving and gentle intrusion?

I always believed (or thought I believed) that parents had the inalienable right to raise their children as they saw fit, without the interference from others, especially well-meaning in-laws. After all, there are valuable lessons to be learned from making mistakes, and parents have that right, and blessing, too.

But some things have happened that have caused me to question that belief. Having said that, I must confess that I have shared privately with my daughter my concern that the discipline they are establishing with their 3 year-old daughter may be too harsh, not physically, but I think maybe emotionally.

My daughter emphatically told me that I have crossed the line, that this is none of my business, and that if I continue to express my concerns, they will restrict my access to my grandchildren. I cannot bear the thought of that!

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A Grandparent's Dilemma: Knowing Your Place

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Grandparent's Role
by: Dr. Julia

We've been there, done that, and made every mistake that we possibly could. Now, looking back we know what we should have done.

But here's the real deal. People DON'T want advice... unless they ask for it. Even then, nine times out of ten, they really are only looking for someone to agree with what they already have in their mind.

First, let me assure you. This is your daughter that you raised. Most likely, your influence is deep inside her (unless she's totally gone off the deep end). She is raising her little one the way that she feels is best based on her own upbringing.

We almost always do exactly what our parents did - with a few modifications. That's why although you hated it when your mother said this or that to you, those very words eventually rolled off your tongue and straight to your own children, right?

I wouldn't be a bit surprised that your daughter's making all kinds of mistakes. Of course she is! She's young, inexperienced, and dumb... just like we were. Still, we managed to have kids that turned out half normal.

Here's my advice (I hope you're that "one out of ten")...

Ask yourself this question. Does my daughter have only the best intentions and love toward this child? If yes, then continue on.

    Try not to make mountains out of foothills (we should already know about the moles).

    Trust that your daughter is not going to "harm" this little one, whether it be by feeding the child the "wrong" food, driving home from your house, or even in the manner of discipline the child receives.

    Only offer advice when asked... and that at your own risk.

That's Try, Trust, Only. TTO. Means nothing, but those are the words on which I used boldface type.

And now for the sneaky part...

When you are witnessing something that you know darn right well how to handle, you must remain lighthearted. Also, understand that the parents are trying to do the only thing they know how (which you and I know, isn't much).

Try saying something REAL. Like, "You know, when you were little, you used to do the same thing. Drove me crazy! What I did was blah blah blah. And it worked (or didn't)".

Sometimes, leave out the "what I did" part. Let your daughter ask you to finish the story about her (or her siblings) and what you and dad did. Share the failures and the triumphs. The failures will be more fun to talk about. Maybe even have some popcorn handy.

Let it be more of a story time as opposed to "advice" time.

Most importantly, relax. Your job is done. Just enjoy the grand part of kids now.

Here's a letter from a young lady to Dr. Julia that shows how "our helpful advice" can sometimes be perceived.

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