Our first experience as Grandparents was one of negotiating the complex and conflicting role of being simultaneously parents and grandparents within the fluidity of a multi-generational household, when our eldest child moved home with our first grandchild.
Our child needed us to be parents; supportive, protective, taking charge at times and stepping back at other.
What they did not need was us stepping into the role of parent to our grandchild – we were the grandparents!
We will be the first to say this was challenging and not without many emotional landmines. It required that we maintain honest and active communication both between ourselves (Mom/Dad) and with our child. Further it meant that our home now held two separate households and everyone needed to be flexible and willing to change - it was no longer our home it was now OUR home, you get the picture.
The first lesson we learned was what the parent says goes even when they are not around.
For there to be a strong grandchild, grandparent relationship trust has to be at the foundation. The trust you need to build is not with your grandchild it is with their parent.
The parent has to trust that you will uphold, support, and back-up, their decisions even when you think they are not necessary or they are wrong.
Once trust is established parents will consult you on parenting and now you have influence over how your grandchild will be raised.
This is not like backseat driving!
Your will be riding along side the driver.
Whereas plotting with grandchildren to break parental rules is a slippery slope that will take your grandchildren to a place you do not want them to go!
“If grandma thinks it’s OK to break Dad’s rule then I can too”
and now what may have been an innocent deception on your part has become an excuse used to break a rule that may have been put in place to protect your grandchild.
The lesson you want to teach them is how to negotiate with their parents, how to talk through disagreements. So rather than saying “You’re in my house now so…” say “ Your parents have said no before so we will do something else this time and we can discuss it with them again”
Grandparent by supporting your children as Parents.