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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Resisting the Urges in Grandparenting (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

In our society, grandparenting seems synonymous with the guiding principle of love them, spoil them, and then send them home. If only it were that simple. Just like parenting, grandparenting comes with its joys and its challenges.  Health, finance, job situation, retirement plans, and family dynamics complicate matters in grandparenting. To foster a healthy and positive grandparenting experience, the following tips are adapted from AARP (Goyer, 2010).

5 Tips to Preserve the Special Bond in Grandparenting:
1. Resist the urge to offer parenting advice to your adult children. Criticizing or offering unsolicited parenting advice can really negatively impact the family dynamics. Nobody likes to be judged, especially in parenting when parents are often unsure of their parenting style. The best thing to do is not offer advice unless you have been asked.

2.  Resist the urge to say "yes" when you want to say "no." Many grandparents feel the need to say "yes" to help their adult children or grandchildren.  Whether it is saying yes to every babysitting request that is made, helping out in financial binds, or buying gifts that they cannot afford, grandparents need to consider their own health concerns, financial security, and desire to live their own lives. Instead, leading a balanced lifestyle with good communication with their adult children, grandparents will be a great role model for their children and grandchildren.

3. Resist the urge to compete. Many grandparents fall into this unhealthy place of wanting to win the "best grandma or grandpa" award. Today, families have all kinds of varied relationships, which may result in multiple grandparents. Competing with other grandparents can create a very uncomfortable dynamic between parents with their adult children and grandchildren. One grandparent may have money whereas another may have time. Yet another may be a great cook whereas another may be an outdoor enthusiast. Competing with one another can create tension and alienate the adult children and grandchildren, whereas embracing the differences and enjoying the commonalities will benefit everyone.

4. Resist the urge to disregard parental rules. When it comes to discipline, snack foods, and TV time; every parent has different ideas about where to draw the line. Grandparents who want to please their grandchildren and end up disregarding the parents’ rules will be in hot waters with their adult children. This can really put a strain in the relationship. When parents and grandparents work together to set boundaries, children are more likely to follow them and harmony between the grandparents and their children will be maintained. Good communication and working as a team is essential in maintaining healthy relations in this special bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

5. Resist the urge to be too pushy. If a grandparent insists on spending a lot of time with their grandchildren, then they may be in shock to learn that they will not always be top priority for their grandkids. Even if you are a grandparent who loves them unconditionally and spoils them rotten, every grandchild go through development differently. Some may want to spend more time with their friends while others need that personal space to recharge. Being pushy with time, attention, and whatever else is the worst approach. Instead, letting your grandchildren and your kids know your availability, listening rather than lecturing, and being positive will win the grandparents lot of brownie points.


Goyer, A. (2010, November 9).  5 Dont’s of Grandparenting, Retrieved June 16, 2011 from (