Family

‘We Grandparents Are Doing the Best We Can’

Be patient, says this grandma-physician-author — and maybe say 'thanks' now and then, too

As a grandmother, I am receiving the big payoff. You know what I mean — the darling grandchildren who come when I want them to, laugh at my silly jokes, wear the sweaters I knit for them, and then, go home with their mothers and fathers.

Being a grandparent, in my estimation, is a chance to live as close to a perfect life as possible. But I know it isn’t this way for all grandparents.

When I first held my granddaughter, I had an overwhelming urge to run out of the room and take her home with me.

So let me have a word with you young parents who have your parents involved in your children’s lives. I know — they drive you crazy with their advice to put a nip of whiskey in your baby’s bottle to stop colic. They try your patience when they buy clothes for your kids that have puffy sleeves, or when they refuse to feed your baby organic foods because, after all, “you turned out just fine.”

Be patient with us, please. Many of us grandparents are doing the best we can. We are trying to love your children the best way we know how. But we need a little help. And, hey — consider yourself lucky that we want to be involved.

Many of us had parents who wanted nothing to do with watching the grandchildren, with going to our kids’ sporting events or arts programs or feeding them foods that are off limits. Most of us are doing the best we can, and I’ll admit, often doing it backwards. Please take time this weekend (and beyond) to offer a thank you to a grandparent, since Sunday is Grandparents Day. Show a little appreciation for our efforts because, well — we’re more tired than you are.

[lz_bulleted_list title=”Grandparents Love Being Grandparents” source=http://www.grandparents.com]72% say it’s the single most satisfying thing in their life|68% say it brings them closer to their adult children|90% enjoy talking about their grandkids to just about everyone|70M — that’s how many American grandparents there are right now [/lz_bulleted_list]

And to you grandparents (and yes, I’m writing to myself), we need to establish better boundaries and buy a roll of duct tape. No, we don’t have the right to be in the delivery room. No, we don’t have the right to spank grandchildren if parents say no, and we don’t have the right to, really, much of anything else.

Time with our grandchildren is a gift. These children feel like they are ours, but they aren’t.

After my granddaughter’s first birthday, I finally confessed a terrifying secret I had kept from my daughter. I gathered the courage to tell her that when I first held my granddaughter in the hospital after she was born, I had an overwhelming urge to run out of the room with her and take her home. (Can you see why I waited a year to tell my daughter?)

The truth is, as much as we want to tell our grown children how to raise our grandchildren, we can’t. Our grandchildren belong to our children, and that means they have the right to choose the food they feed them, the school they send them to, and the clothes they put on them — even if all their clothes are gray. Our job is to honor their parenting and let them know this.

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And the duct tape? This is one of the best grandparent tools available. If we want to maintain close relationships with the parents of our grandchildren, we must be ready to tear off a strip at a moment’s notice and stick it over our mouths.

Yup. I have learned that the older our kids get, the less we should say if we want to stay close to them, especially when it comes to giving unsolicited parenting advice.

Take a moment to thank your children for the opportunity to be involved in their wonderful kids’ lives. And keep quiet, mostly.

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for 30 years. She is the author of the online course, “The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids,” which is part of The Strong Parent Project.

meet the author

Dr. Meg Meeker has practiced pediatrics and adolescent medicine for more than 30 years. She is the author of the book “Hero: Being the Strong Father Your Children Need” (Regnery Publishing), along with a number of digital parenting resources and online courses, including The 12 Principles of Raising Great Kids.

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