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Isn’t being a grandma the absolute best? Being a mom has its perks, too, but being a grandma is an absolute joy that requires much less discipline, brainpower, and heartache than parenting your own children. We indeed get the fun job now where we can spoil the grandkids and send them home, but we still need to be mindful of their parents – our kids – and how we can support them in their parenting journey. Thankfully, there are many ways that we, the grandmas, can help our grandkids’ parents, including:
Offer to take the kids so mom and dad can rest (or go out)
This may seem super obvious, but it deserves to be #1, since parenting (as you remember) is exhausting, and there is nothing more refreshing for parents than a quiet meal and beverage of their choosing. You can always offer to babysit for special occasions, but suggest it on “ordinary” days, too. (Hey, they aren’t the only ones benefitting from this – you’re getting some extra spoiling time, too!)
Yes, you have been there before, and you probably have the answer they are looking for, but you never want to overstep and cause hurt feelings or resentment (especially with your daughter or son-in-law). If your adult child asks your opinion or for advice on something, by all means, give it; otherwise, I have found it is better to bite my tongue and pray they figure out a solution as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Have their back
I’m not going to lie: there have been times when I have sided with my grandkids and not their parents (I mean, it may be a school night, but it was only an hour past their bedtime!). However, just as I do not to overstep, I bit my tongue and told my grand they need to listen to and respect their mom and dad. Speaking of having mom and dad’s backs…
Speak highly of them even when they aren’t around
…Talk them up to your grandkids! There is no doubt that your grandkids love and adore their parents, but hearing how smart and wonderful they are from someone else (like their brilliant grandma!) never hurts.
Don’t second-guess their parenting
Everyone parents differently (remember how different you were from your mother and your mother-in-law, thank goodness?), and it is essential that you, grandma, don’t second-guess it. Did a little Red Dye 40 ever hurt anyone? Of course not! However, your daughter-in-law read something somewhere about refined sugars and dyes and blah blah, and now the kids can’t have it, and you, no matter how badly you want to, cannot second-guess it. Unless the kids are being abused or neglected, you need to let your kids parent the way they see best for their family.
This may be a little unconventional, but I LOVE giving my kids memberships to the museum, aquarium, and other places instead of physical gifts, as it gives them something easy that they can do together as a family year-round!
There is no feeling quite like receiving praise and compliments for a job well done, especially concerning something as thankless as parenting. Give your child unsolicited praise – tell them you’re proud of the mom or dad they have become and what good parents they are to *insert your grandchild’s name here*. Trust me: It will make them feel great that you noticed and earn you some extra world’s best mom/in-law/grandma points, too.
Ask if you can help
If you can sense your adult child is stressed, ask them if there is anything you can do to help. This can be as simple as bringing them dinner or as generous as helping out financially. As cliche as it is, times are different from when we had our kids, and having that extra support can make all the difference.
Never speak illy behind their back
You wouldn’t want somebody talking about you (or worse: criticizing your parenting!) behind your back, so it is better to stay away from gossip, too. If something is really bothering you that isn’t getting better on its own, it may be time to sit down and talk to your child and their spouse. Otherwise, it’s best to keep the – err, stories – to yourself.
See: Don’t second-guess their parenting
Give them space
It’s easy to want to spend all of your time with your grandchildren and their parents, but it is essential to remember that they are their own family now and need to have their own time and space. You are, of course, a considerable part of the family, but make sure not to insert yourself into anything without your adult child’s blessing.
I hope I don’t come off as too strict or bossy with these tips, but I have learned through trial and error that these 11 things work best for supporting my grandchildren’s parents. Can you think of anything else? Let me know!