Hands Off!


I believe that a big part of being a grandparent is working to support the parenting choices that our kids make. Fellow grandparents, we all know the feeling of finding ourselves in a situation where we want to step in to control the way that our kids raise their kids. However, we also know that giving unsolicited advice is typically not something that works out the way we’re hoping it will. By encouraging you to support rather than undermine your adult children’s parenting choices, I’m not saying that you’re going to agree with every choice that your kids make as they’re raising your grandkids. I am saying that it’s okay to have questions or suggestions but keep them to yourself.

In other words, it’s time to let go of some of that control we are so used to having when it comes to our kids. I’m finding that the more freedom I give my kids from me and my own expectations, the more I see a big difference in our relationship and how they feel supported by me. My kids realize that I’m not going to jump in and correct them while they’re correcting their own kids or undermine them as they make choices on how to handle different parenting situations.

Of course, I’m not doing this perfectly. I still overstep sometimes, but I really am making a genuine effort to wait to give my input until I’m asked for it. Sure, that might happen less frequently than I would like, but that’s okay! As grandparents, it can be hard to step back and let our kids parent their own way. Some grandparents take differences of opinion personally and feel like their adult children’s parenting choices are veiled criticisms of the way that we raised them. I’m sure many of us have seen grandparents get upset when their kids tell them that the way they want to handle a situation with the grandkids is not the way that the grandparents want it to be handled. That is when this line (or something like it) might come out: “I raised four kids! Why do you act like I don’t know anything about parenting?”

When your adult children choose to handle parenting situations in different ways than you handled them, there might be a lot of feelings involved. You might assume that your kids are doing things differently because they think you handled things poorly. You might also assume that your kids blame you for some of the hurt that they felt about things, even though you never intended for them to feel that way. When you’re starting to go down that mental pathway, I would encourage you to do your best to stop in your tracks.

If we pause and think about it for a moment, we’ll realize that our goal as parents was to take the example that was handed to us and improve upon it. In the same way, that’s what our kids are doing as they’re raising our grandkids. They’re trying their best to take the best parts of the way that we raised them and pass that along to their kids. They are also trying to avoid some of the hurtful, pitfall experiences along the way too. When you give them the freedom to navigate the challenging world of parenting without feeling like you’re looking over their shoulder to offer advice and criticism at any moment, you’re setting everybody up to win more often at home!