This is an age when the “boomers” sometimes don’t want to be reminded that they are getting…well, old. Being a grandparent can be a reminder of that. Some grandparents do not want to be called “grandma, grandpa, nana” . They prefer other names.
Let them be called what they want! The biggest issue is how to integrate grandparents into your new family. They may be viewed as wise experienced loving family members who have much advice to offer, or intrusive, judgmental and totally out of date family members who should mind their own business! If they are like most grandparents they are probably both!
How could parenting kids from one generation to another be so different? In the animal kingdom, my guess is it is all the same from one generation to another. Ahh we are not animals. Every generation seems to change the rules and want to, perhaps, do it better this time around.
Grandparents have to learn to bite their lip and only give advice when asked. Ohhh this can be hard! However, they also need to feel respected and that they have a special role in the lives of your children. Of course, grandparents have to remember they had their chance to raise their children the way they wanted. Their grandchildren are not their children. They must remember the parents are now the deciders!
That said, it is so important to support your children to have the best relationship possible with their grandparents. It can be a magical relationship. Loved and indulged with few limits. I think that may be the definition of heaven! Keep in mind that people who were really not very good at being parents may shine at being grandparents. Step aside and let that develop, it is a gift you are giving to your children.
It also gives your children the opportunity to relate and love others in another generation. That can only be good to promote empathy, tolerance and true love. They also learn about history, first hand! Most importantly they learn about how to care for loved ones who gradually need more care. That is an invaluable life lesson.
What if that is not possible in your family? I realize some grandparents are self centered and have no interest in being involved grandparents. Other grandparents are not good influences or can not be involved for whatever reason. However, there are many elderly people who would love to connect with children. You just need to find them. It may be other older relatives in your family, older friends or parents of your friends.
Multiple generational relationships are good for all of us, it reminds us all of the wonderful cycle of life. It also helps us to become less self centered, that is true for children and grandparents as well. As a parent, never underestimate the wonderful gift grandparents can offer your children. If their are conflicts, try to open communication. Parents need to feel respected for their primary role and grandparents need to feel respected for what they have to offer. Reinforcing the feelings of respect often minimizes the conflicts. This may be a process of defining new roles, but it is a process that is well worth it. Don’t forget, grandparents often make great babysitters!