On Grandparenting

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“I want you to consider that when (grandchild) is at our home, she seems to have a good sense of when she is really hungry and sometimes it is not necessarily around a mealtime. I don’t expect you to change your rule, but you might want to consider that even when she really can’t seem to finish her dinner because she feels full, she may experience true hunger later in the evening. It’s much like infants who absolutely know when they need food because at that point, they cry. Also, I am concerned that the stress on finishing all the food on her plate may lead her to dislike eating, in general, because she might perceive it negatively. It’s something I hope you’ll just think about. It was important for me to talk to you about this because, as you know, I respect you both and truly love and care for (grandchild).”

The parents were cordial in their response and stated that they know how much he loves and cares for their child. The son-in-law said that they would discuss it but added that they really want their daughter to finish her meals at the table.

The grandfather felt relieved that he spoke with his daughter and son-in-law, because, in so doing, he advocated for his grandchild without causing her any emotional distress. Whether the rule gets revised or not, he knew he handled his role as a responsible grandparent.

This is one of many dilemmas of being a grandparent. It cannot be stressed enough that grandparents need to be mindful of their relationship with parents for the sake of their grandchildren. At all times, grandparents need to be respectful of parents and resist being confrontational, especially in the presence of the grandchildren. When it becomes necessary to advocate, it is always best when children are not present – and assertive communication is most advisable.

Being a grandparent brings boundless rewards and gratification; it also presents with challenges at times.

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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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