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Grandparenting in the 21st CenturyIssue1234

You Disagree with Mom and Dad’s Parenting Style. Now What?


Across generations of parents, countless differences in parenting styles are common. Some are small while others might be so great that it would seem like today's parents are raising their children on different planets. Now that you're a grandparent, you're likely picking up on the differences between the parenting style of the parents and your own. You've probably also noticed your child doing some things exactly as you did, which might make you feel proud.  

But how do you feel about the things they do differently? Do you laugh to yourself, thinking that will never work? Do you become upset, thinking that your grandchild will in some way suffer the consequences of not being raised the way you would raise them? Do you feel jealous that your child and his or her spouse has found better ways to do discipline? When should you keep quiet? When can you speak up?

Taking a Backseat as Grandparents Isn't Easy, but It's Usually for the Best
As a grandparent, it can be difficult to take a back seat to parenting, but it's the best thing to do. Your grandchild is Mom and Dad's responsibility, and the methods, rules, schedules, and structures used to rear the child ultimately fall under their jurisdiction. Things may not always be done the "right" way (your way), but it's every parent's right to learn, make mistakes, and pave their own parenting path. It's your job to be supportive and offer advice when it's wanted.

Here are some tips to keep in mind to help keep the peace:

  • Respect Mom and Dad's boundaries, but let them know you're available for advice or as a sounding board.
  • Don't criticize. As you recall, parenting is hard enough without someone pointing out that you're doing it wrong.
  • Be supportive. Offer encouragement. The words, "You're a good mom/dad," can mean the world to a young parent.
  • Consider whether speaking up is really necessary. Is the issue important enough to risk causing an argument or hurt feelings?
  • Don't bad-mouth Mom and Dad's parenting skills to your grandchild. Your grandchild will likely tell them and take their parents' side over yours anyway.
  • Be there for your grandchild. Make sure they know you're always there to love and support them.

When You Should Speak Up

Like any good rule, there are exceptions to keeping quiet. If your grandchild is in danger or their safety or health is at risk, then you must speak up and intervene on their behalf. If there are extreme consequences your grandchild will suffer due to neglectful or negligent parenting, then it's not only okay for you to step in, it's your obligation.

If you're ever in doubt about whether or not to speak up or criticize, evaluate the situation. Then, think back to when you were a young parent. Did your parents or in-laws try to tell you how to parent your child? If they did, think about how that made you feel. Follow the Golden Rule, and you'll be golden as a grandparent.

Teaching Activity

Plant the Seeds of Good Eating Habits


This activity combines gardening with a little instruction on healthy eating, and it's an excellent way to spend quality, connected time with your grandchild. Invite your grandchild to help you to plan, tend, and harvest a vegetable garden. This provides an opportunity to educate your grandchild on the importance of eating healthy and for you to teach them responsibility.

  1. Decide what to plant. You'll want to discuss what vegetables are best for the climate where you live and why.
  2. Encourage your grandchild to choose vegetables they've never tried. You'd be surprised how much more likely they are to try something new when they've grown it themselves.
  3. Teach them how to plant the seeds or plants, and go over the instructions for growing and tending to each vegetable.
  4. You may have to do some tending on your own, but each time your grandchild visits, show them how the garden has changed and teach them to weed, water, and fertilize the plants in the garden.
  5. Make sure your grandchild comes over when it's time to harvest so you can teach them how to tell when the vegetables are ripe and how to harvest them.
  6. Cook up something new and delicious with the food you've grown together.

Social Skills

Making an Apology

We all do and say things we regret sometimes. In the heat of the moment, it's easy to let unpleasant things fly out of our mouths. But it's not so easy to take those things back. Once something is said or done, it can't be undone, so a sincere apology is the next best remedy.

Apologizing the right way isn't something we're born knowing how to do, so it's a good skill to teach your grandchild. Here are some steps you can teach them (you can rephrase steps to make them age-appropriate):

  1. Look at the person.
  2. Use a serious, sincere voice tone, but don't pout.
  3. Begin by saying, "I wanted to apologize for . . ." or "I'm sorry for . . ."
  4. Do not make excuses or try to rationalize your behavior.
  5. Sincerely say that you will try not to repeat the same behavior in the future.
  6. Offer to compensate or pay restitution.
  7. Thank the other person for listening.

Coming up in Issue 4

Effective Discipline and Praise Techniques


Map It Out


Accepting Criticism or a Consequence

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