It’s A Grand Life – Know Your Limits

I recently read an article titled, “15 Things Mothers-In-Law Need to Stop Doing,” by Linda Beth. While a number of the items pertain mainly to the relationship between the mother-in-law and her daughter/son-in-law, several apply to the grandkids, as well.

I am fortunate to have a great relationship with my sons-in-law (or they are really good actors). However, in reading the article, I had to admit to being guilty of things Beth claims are no-nos. A few of the 15 pertain directly to our input as grandparents.

For example, number three on Beth’s list is “trying to name your grandchildren.” I admit to suggesting names, but the ultimate decision was theirs alone. I did put my opinion in, whether in words or by facial expression, which I admit I had no right to do, when they mentioned a name I really didn’t like. Fortunately, I love all my grandchildren’s names. I know there are children who refuse to tell anyone the names they’ve chosen for their own children to avoid hearing people’s comments. Questioning their decision, shaking your head or making a face every time the name is mentioned will definitely put a dent in the relationship you have with them.

Number five on Beth’s list of things to stop doing is “disguising advice in questions.” Uninvited advice to your daughter/son is one thing. They, after all, were raised by you and will take it, ignore it or tell you to “M.Y.O.B.” as they see fit. Your in-law is a different matter, especially when the thinly disguised criticism comes in the form of a question and involves the raising of their children. Unless there is something that is potentially harmful to your grandchild, what the child is wearing, his or her schedule, what he or she eats, etc. is not yours to concern yourself with. In any case, starting a conversation with “don’t you think,” “are you sure,” “wouldn’t it be,” is not going to illicit the response you are hoping for.

Numbers six, seven and eight go together and, though obvious, always bear repeating. Number six Beth calls “rescuing your grandchild.” I don’t like this term, but what she means by it is a good point. If the child wants something and the parents want him/her to do chores, or the like, to earn it, that should be the way it is handled. If the grandparent steps in and buys the item, it negates the lesson the parents are teaching. Instead of working towards a goal, the child learns to bypass the parents and get “rescued” by the grandparents.

Number seven is “breaking the parents’ rules.” Beth understands that as grandparents we will occasionally spoil our grandkids, but constantly ignoring the rules they put in place is not acceptable. Allowing them to stay up way past their bedtimes, giving them sugary treats before nap or bedtime, letting them watch too much TV or play hours of video games may not seem like a big deal to us, but the effects of lack of sleep grumpiness and other issues from breaking their rules are felt by the parents and definitely not appreciated.

This leads to number eight in Beth’s list of things to stop doing which is “making parents the bad guys.” Loving our grandchildren doesn’t mean giving into them when it goes against the parents’ wishes. Saying, “I would give you that candy bar, but your mommy said I couldn’t,” does not make you a good grandparent or win you points with the parents. Explaining why they can’t have candy without bringing their parents into the reason is all that needs to be said.

Beth lists other things she wishes in-laws/parents would stop doing if they want to have a good relationship with their adult children and their significant others. Those may come to light in a later article. For now, read the above again, take it to heart or with a grain of salt, but if any of them ring true with you, Beth’s advice is, “please, please, please, if you’re doing any of the things on this list — just stop!”