I am a grandmother. I say that because I think it gives me the unique perspective of having been a grandchild, having dealt with the grandmother to my children, and now from the viewpoint of grand-parenting.
In other words, I know what I am talking about.
Grand-parenting is tough, and I think, for me anyway, it is the hardest of the three because you want to see your grand-kids get the best of everything, but you have little control over how they are raised. You are an outsider with an insider’s heart.
Your son or daughter and their partner will be the ones making the choices about how to raise the children, how to discipline, and what values to instill. Sometimes they may ask you for input – many times they won’t do as you suggest.
You will see the mistakes that you made with your children repeated in the mistakes they are making with theirs. The toughest thing is that you can’t really do a thing about it.
This letter is to you, Grandma. It is from someone who completely understands the angst. Hopefully it will also give kids a peek into the heart of a grandma so that they can respond with more understanding.
Congratulations. If you thought your heart was walking around outside your body when you had a child, you’d better steel yourself because a grandchild is both heart and soul walking around out there in the world.
The first thing you will need to learn is to be a shadow-angel. Funny term, isn’t it? It just means that you will have to watch from the shadows while your children parent your grandchildren. It means being ready to step out of the shadows to help when needed, and then heading right back to that invisible place when it isn’t needed or wanted any more.
Sometimes you will be standing there, seeing your children struggle with their parenting and you will know how to fix it, but you won’t be invited in to help. As a grandmother, your heart will break, but the rules are that you maintain quiet vigil until called upon.
Boundaries are not always clear, but you must look for them and discipline yourself not to cross them. If your grandchildren are not allowed to eat ice cream, then no ice cream can pass their lips while you have them.
If they are running amok in china shop while your daughter-in-law chooses her anniversary china you may verbally curtail their antics, but you may not give them that swat that you feel they need unless you have been given permission to do so.
At the same time, you need to be a nonstop encourager with both your kids and grandkids. No criticism should leave your lips – even well meant. If a time should come when you are pulled into a power struggle between your child and grandchild, then you have to side with your child (even if you don’t agree) while reassuring your grandchild of your undying devotion.
The relationship between the two of them must always take precedence over the relationship you have with your grandkids. Consider yourself a benevolent enabler (in a healthy way).
Is it worth it? Grandma, you are about to experience the ride of your life. Prepare to be worshiped adored, and valued far above what you have ever experienced. After all those years of being the one to stand between your children and their own immaturity, you now get to be the fun one.
Enjoy it. You deserve every minute.