Thinking back to my first few years of motherhood, I don’t know how I would have gotten through them without my own parents’ support. We even lived with them for a short time after moving to California when my oldest Erik was just a baby.
And although I will be forever appreciative of all their help during that time, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses. In fact, those years taught me a lot about all the different ways that parents and grandparents (i.e. their own parents) can butt heads!
And we’ll be exploring many of those in today’s blog post, where I’ll be sharing 9 behaviors and habits that grandparents should avoid. And I think you’ll see that for the most part, these tips are simply reminders of the things that every young parent swore they would never do when they became a grandparent! ;-)
9 Things You Shouldn’t Do As A Grandparent
1. Break The Rules
Setting reasonable boundaries and enforcing rules is an important part of parenting. And it certainly isn’t made any easier when grandparents disregard those rules whenever you have your back turned!
For grandparents, flouting Mom and Dad’s rules with your grandkids may seem like innocent fun. But in reality, you could be undermining their authority as parents and contributing to future conflict, so you may want to think twice before letting the grandkids stay up late again!
2. Surprise Your Grandkids With Major Gifts
Surprises can be great, but it’s not always a good idea to surprise your grandchildren with big gifts (both in terms of size and value!) Whether it’s a puppy or an iPad, big gifts should be given thoughtfully and considerately, which means talking with their parents to make sure they’re on board.
But don’t worry, you don’t have to give up the element of surprise altogether! Just stick to smaller, less expensive gifts.
3. Focus Too Much On Appearances
True, your granddaughter may actually be the cutest little girl in the whole wide world. But grandparents can easily get carried away with those types of compliments and forget to balance them out with other types of comments.
If your granddaughter only hears you say how cute she is, she might be getting the message that her looks are her only positive quality. But if she also hears you say how good she is at solving problems, or how helpful she is to her siblings, that could very well benefit her self-esteem in the long run.
4. Bring Up The Baby Weight
As a grandma, bonding with your daughter about motherhood can bring you both even closer together. But there are some things your daughter doesn’t need to hear from you, and that includes pretty much anything related to baby weight!
If she brings it up or asks for advice, that’s one thing. But otherwise, it’s safe to assume that she won’t necessarily appreciate unsolicited comments regarding her weight!
5. Ignore Dietary Rules & Restrictions
Not everyone emulates their own parents when they have kids of their own, and it’s important for grandparents to make room for those differences. You may not understand why your grandkids can eat organic cheese puffs while Cheetos are off-limits, but that’s okay!
In order to have a healthy relationship with both your child and grandchild, it’s important to respect that decisions about food and diet aren’t necessarily yours to make.
6. Request More Grandchildren
I would absolutely love to be a grandmother myself one day, but I also recognize that I don’t get to decide if or when that happens! So as much as you may desperately want another grandchild, it’s not fair to pin those hopes on your child.
There are many reasons why your child may not be ready to have a baby (first, or otherwise) from fertility or finances, to mental health or personal preference. By repeatedly hounding them about giving you another grandchild, you could be doing more harm than good.
7. Post Photos Without Permission
Before you post those 27 new photos of your grandkids on Facebook, do you know how Mom and Dad feel about it? If you haven’t had one yet, it’s time to have a conversation with your kids about how they feel about social media.
Some parents love posting photos of their kids online, while others may have concerns about privacy and other issues. You won’t know how your kids feel until you ask, so it’s worth having that conversation so you can get on the same page.
8. Demand Clean Plates
No parent or grandparent wants to see good food go to waste, but forcing your grandkids to eat everything on their plate isn’t necessarily a better option! According to a 2014 study on childhood obesity, it doesn’t just come down to what a child is fed—how they’re fed is just as important.
In order to maintain a healthy weight, kids need to learn to listen to their own bodies for cues about hunger and fullness. If you insist that your grandkids clean their plates before leaving the table, you may be teaching them that it’s more important to eat everything than it is to stop eating when you’re full.
9. Provide Endless Treats
Receiving (or sneaking) treats from Grandma and Grandpa is a time-honored human tradition, and I would never suggest that it’s wrong or bad! But like most things, it’s best in moderation. :-)
It’s all about making smart choices about the amount and variety of treats you give to your grandkids. Instead of allowing them unlimited access to your ice cream stash when they visit, keep mini ice cream bars on hand and set a limit of one per visit.
Being responsible with treats isn’t just about health or eating habits (although those are important!) It’s also a way to support your child’s parenting efforts, because if their kids are getting tons of treats at Grandma’s, it can be harder to enforce healthy eating habits at home.
Grandparents, what’s one piece of advice you would share with other grandparents?