We all know that being a grandparent is like no other relationship we have ever had, it is a unique relationship.
But do we know how to be a grandparent?
The saying is
Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs
but is that still accurate?
There is no doubt that in years gone by that may well have been true, but things are different now, it is not the same as it was when we were parents.
Like being a parent you learn on the job, and sometimes we fall into the pitfalls that can cause issues.
If you were to say to your daughter-in-law or son-in law, or daughter/son things like
Oh, that’s not the way to feed baby, or not the way to put them down
I guarantee the sparks will begin to fly.
Just think back to when you were a parent, I am sure you would have reacted similarly, if you had been spoken to that way.
Parents, just like we did, need to do things for themselves to make mistakes and learn by them.
Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, and everyone of us made and no doubt continue to make mistakes, but it is the parent who is responsible for the upbringing of their own children.
Another example is when perhaps a new partner comes on the scene.
We may well not get on too well with them but they are still a big part in our grandchildren’s lives, it is not the place of a grandparent to openly criticise the new partner to our grandchildren. You then have the grandchildren repeating what you might have said to their Mum/Dad and the response naturally is hostile and it may result in the parent saying that you can no longer see your grandchildren. For the child this is devastating they don’t understand why this has happened and so begins a ping pong of bad judgement by everyone.
The child is in the middle, no child should be in that position.
Family relationships are fragile, it takes hard work on all sides.
As grandparents we must never aid and abet estrangement and alienation.
All too often I hear from targeted parents that the grandparent is making their heartbreaking situation worse, if you like they fan the flames. That is totally unacceptable.
When we hear the word ‘vexatious’ used within Family Law, when grandparents apply for leave, this is the sort of thing they mean.
(Denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant.)
If you are reading this thinking I am sure grandparents don’t behave like this, I promise you, a small minority do.
As estranged and alienated grandparents it is important to acknowledge that there are some grandparents who should have nothing to do with their grandchildren ( if reasons are proven) equally there are some parents who should have nothing to do with their children.
The needs and safety of the children is paramount.
If I was to give anyone tips for being a grandparent it would be to be there, to give help and support when asked, think your own thoughts but never speak them!
Both parents and grandparents want what is best for the children, so we all need to work together and communicate with one another, putting the children first.
For those who have the privilege in being in their grandchildren’s lives, and it is a privilege, not a right, soak up every wonderful moment, as those moments are gone in a flash.
Be the grandparents that never judge but always listen.