It seems easy before it happens. It’s delightful to think of sending your toddler grandchild back home as sugar high and cranky as yours were. Also, don’t forget those loud toys that grandma and grampa were delighted to send your way.
Hold on before you let that daydream become reality. Grandparenting is more involved than that, and it will most likely take the diplomacy skills of a veteran ambassador, the strength of an Olympic athlete and the knowledge of an ancient philosopher to provide the guidance and help needed.
Parenting Styles: Your children may very well choose a parenting style that is diametrically opposed to your own. Unless it is a legitimate threat to the child’s well being, don’t get involved. It’s hard, but alienating yourself from your child and his/her family is worse. Who knows? In this instance your child might be right.
Jealousy: I hate to tell you this, but if there are two sets of grandparents, jealousy can become an issue. Look very closely at your actions and think about them carefully to make sure you err on the side of angels.
This is an important and delicate issue. You can’t do anything at all about the in-laws, but you can do something about yourself and your spouse. Jealousy is an emotion, and it isn’t one you can dictate to. However, you can dictate your reaction to it. Don’t concentrate on how others feel, deal with your own emotions and let others do the same.
Know Your Limits: It’s easy to invite the grandkids to a day at an amusement park. Unfortunately, not every grandparent is up for the level of movement that calls for. You may need to find someone in the family that can keep up with the kids to go along. I know I’d have to do that.
Diplomacy: I am by no means a saint. I can remember a few times when the diplomacy of my parents helped me find the humor in a situation that most parents would find galling at the least. Here is a prime example
Our girls were barely into double digits when it occurred to them that Ken and Barbie were not married. Unbeknownst to me and any other adult on the west side of the U.S., they decided a wedding was in order — so they wrote to my parents as to how to provide the dolls with appropriate garments.
The first thing I heard of it was when a package arrived addressed to them with a letter inside addressed to me. It seems the wardrobe available for this event was sadly lacking and they had mailed a letter to my parents asking for suitable raiment. The package contained such finery as was required.
The letter told me the story and my mother, who had orchestrated the search for a Barbie wedding gown and a Ken tuxedo, told me not to make a fuss. The girls were very polite and they had a moral point. After that, what could we do? Ken and Barbie were duly married.
Grandparenting really is a form of parenthood. It’s like going for your doctorate after barely passing your associates (junior college) degree. However, like parenthood, you will find a way to manage if you keep an open mind and a willing heart.