On Grandparenting

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Grandparents are not parents. They should never interfere with parents’ rules when children are present. Plain and simple, it is unfair to children and never in their best interest. However, is there room for discussion when children are out of the house?

The same grandparent who was disturbed about his grandchild being told to finish everything on her plate or not have any more food later in the evening, was advised to speak to his daughter and son-in-law the next day. He was going to the house to help assemble a new piece of furniture they purchased. He was well prepared to use assertive communication, understanding that it may not necessarily lead to the parents revising their rule, but that, in the end, he will feel better about himself for advocating for his grandchild.

The grandparent was advised to use “I” statements as much as possible. He was reminded that even though he and his wife were in agreement, it is never appropriate to speak for someone else if he or she is not present. In addition, using “I” statements to express one’s ideas is less confrontational and aggressive. It leaves no room for disagreement when one is expressing personal feelings. It is also important to acknowledge the strengths of others and demonstrate respect in one’s words. The grandparent practiced communicating through role playing and was prepared on this day.

While his son-in-law was serving him a drink, and his daughter was busy opening a carton in the same room, the grandparent introduced the topic in the following way:

“I really enjoyed having you all at the house the other day.”

The parents agreed that everyone had a good time. He continued on:

“I did notice that you both were adamant about (granddaughter) finishing everything on her plate before leaving the table, and that you don’t typically allow her to eat later if she refuses.”

At that, the son-in-law began to look uncomfortable, and the daughter appeared to be upset.

The grandparent picked up on this and added:

“I understand and appreciate that you want her to be well nourished, and that meal time is meal time.”

At this, the parents nodded and agreed. He continued:

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1 Comment

  1. You provide much-needed guidance for grandparents handling the challenges of maintaining a positive relationship with the parents of their grandchildren WITHOUT causing additional friction. And your suggestions about using ‘I’ statements as a way to advocate for a grandchild, while not openly challenging parental rules offers a real-life solution to what can be an ongoing issue.

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