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Ask OMT! #2 Should Grandparents Speak Up?

You liked it, you really liked it…the inaugural ASK OMT!, that is!

Onward to the second in the series.

Here’s what I promise:

* I’ll answer as honestly as I can.

* I won’t sugarcoat or bs my way through the answers.

* I’ll offer this caveat: Once some things are seen, they can’t be unseen. Are y’all sure you want to know some thangs?  Yeah?  Ok…

* You’d trust this face, right?

Oh, Mrs. Tucker!

Thanks to Amanda for posing the next question: Suppose your grown son/daughter is practicing a parenting habit with your grandchild that you strongly disagree with. Should you say something, or should you butt out?

As a grandmama, I understand this type of concern because #1 you gots none of the control, but #2 you still want the very best for dat baby or child.

Parenting today is a different beast than when I did it or when Amanda did it.  When we had our kiddos, grandparents and parents were the source of trusted info when questions arose about baby care;  the mommy groups of today were non-existent.

Today, moms and dads are connected to groups and each other and an information highway of mammoth proportions.  If they have a question, more often than not, their first response is to head to the Internet, or group boards, bypassing the hard-won wisdom of parents and grandparents.

This is has an upside and a downside.

UPSIDE: Holy Smokes, how the Internet could have calmed more than one of my mommy panic moments without having to ask my mom.  Oh look, this is completely normal!  Or…Oh look, time to check with a doc!  The Internet and all that available info is an amazing gift for new parents.

DOWNSIDE: All. That. Inaccurate. Info.  I’m not talking just for new parents here.  How many of us have checked Dr. Google and walked away convinced we were dying of some tragic weirdo disease?  ~holding my hand up~  Now, add unsure, inexperienced and anxious parents to that mix and you see the downside.  Some people take what they read as gospel, refusing to take into account the agenda of whoever wrote the piece, and others apply reason and understand that anyone with a keyboard can offer expert advise.

Just like me!

Now that we have food for thought, let’s get back to Amanda’s question: Suppose your grown son/daughter is practicing a parenting habit with your grandchild that you strongly disagree with. Should you say something, or should you butt out?

Here’s what Garry and I talked about frequently and decided prior to becoming grandparents: Even if we disagree with a practice that our children employ with the grandkiddos, we’re gonna butt-out, with a caveat.  The caveat being: as long as no one is being harmed.

Now, what happens when we disagree or what happens when a method or practice arises that makes us anxious?  We discuss it with our children.

So far this has worked perfectly.

Communication is key.  Isn’t that the truth of all relationships and disagreements?  Without communication, problems become bigger problems.  OMT no likey.

My philosophy in this life has been: Can we talk about it?  I’m not a fan of difficult discussions or being on the opposite spectrum of anything with my kids.  Life would be easier if we never made each other uncomfortable, right?  Yet, that’s rarely the case.

So, should you say something?  Absolutely.  Caveat: you must remember that while you have a concern, you are simply the support team, not the head coach, and that even after discussion, you may walk away unconvinced.  Don’t operate out of fear or anger or accusation.  Approach the conversation in love. Be open and listen.

You may not change their mind, you may annoy them, they may annoy you and you may not understand their decision afterwards, but, that’s okay.  Just like you raised your kids in the best way you could, for me, I trust that my kids are doing the same.

If the parents have implemented a habit or practice that puts the child in danger, you then have a moral responsibility to speak up or to take action that requires a third party intervention (I’m talking extremes here, like babies/toddlers/small children being left alone, or not being fed and cared for properly, or physical/mental abuse.)

Sweet E is still a toddler, but between the four adults, we have discussed (and Garry and I have learned) many things.  Do we always agree?  Nah.  But, it’s seriously okay.

I take comfort in the fact that we raised Boy in a way that was completely different than either set of his grandparents had raised us, and while they had their concerns and OMGOSH moments with us, we discussed everything along the way and assured them that we had it under control, that we loved Boy and would never offer him less than everything we could.

Being a grandparent is a balancing act.  You love your grandkiddos in a way you never knew existed until they entered your life, you love their parents, but your roll is more hands off, baby.  It’s tough to do, especially since we are so familiar and comfortable with our decision-making rolls as parents; we’re used to taking charge and getting thangs done.

The season of grandparenting allows us to offer our support, our love and understanding without the responsibility of raising dem babies.  If asked for your wisdom, give it.  If not, they’re not interested.

It’s a glorious place to stand.

Cliff Notes:

* If you’re concerned, ask to talk about it.

* If asked for your wisdom, give it.

* Remember your primary responsibility is love and support.

I hope that helps in some small way, Amanda.

If you guys have a question for me, please leave it in the comments, email me, or head to my facebook page and leave it there.

Do you guys have anything to add?  Tell us!


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Thursday 23rd of October 2014

One of the reasons I used the Internet instead of my mom and grandma is that I'm doing things, like breastfeeding, that neither of them ever did. They just didn't have the information I needed. I'm also raising three boys who have VERY different personalities than my sister and I did when we were growing up. Techniques that worked with seen-but-not-heard girls do not work on my brood.

Patti Tucker

Friday 24th of October 2014

BOYS! So different than quiet girls. :) I have always said if the Internet had been around in its present form back when I was a mom, I would have used the hell out of it. It's handy. But, for me, some wisdom of my elders, translated across the lines of gender.


Monday 20th of October 2014

Great article! I have found that grandparent-parent-grandkid relationships seem to be a continuation of what was established between the former two before the third generation appeared. I tried very hard to establish a strong team of supportive, happy people during those years. It's paying off now in all the fun and trust we have between us, although I'm sure we all let things go once in awhile for the sake of continued unity. Having said that. it's easy for me to (gently!) opine on an issue, but I have balanced those times out with compliments and recognition for a parenting job well done so that my words are always respected. I'd place you in the same category, Patti, as well as many of my personal grandma friends!

Patti Tucker

Monday 20th of October 2014

Joyce, I totally agree that we have continued the relationship that was established so many years ago with our son (and then our DIL). I have gently offered my thoughts, as has Garry, yet we are respectful of our roles (as the wrestling world used to yell: KNOW YOUR ROLE!) We have also offered our observations on their job well done, because it's such a joy to witness, I have to tell them!

Thank you for the insightful thoughts (and for such a lovely compliment).


Saturday 18th of October 2014

I wish that my parents and in-laws would have been given this advice before my oldest was born. We constantly had to keep reminding them that they were the grandparents and not the parents. We have finally made some progress in the 8 years of this process, but it is still so frustrating when they undermine us in front of our kids. If you are a grandparent I can almost promise you will have a much better relationship with your adult child if you let them be the parent and you be the grandparent. Great advice!

Patti Tucker

Saturday 18th of October 2014

"...let them be the parent and you be the grandparent." Great advice.

Lora @ Crazy Running Girl

Friday 17th of October 2014

Great article! I agree with talking about it... it doesn't have to be confrontational or rude, but an open discussion... both parties will learn something from it!

Patti Tucker

Friday 17th of October 2014

Thanks, Lora. I think grandparents can forget that new parents will forge their own way, just like they did. Most fears are irrational. Talking can help zap those fears.

Ronda Chesser Porter

Friday 17th of October 2014

Excellent advice!! I have been anxious with a new daughter-in-law. My mother was an angel. The day I said I do, she never said another word of instruction to me. Leaving the door open for me to ask for advice, and believe me I did and still do - I'm 49. One day we were in the car, I was driving, sis in front with me, Mom in the back with my kids. They were fighting, it was shameful (really glad this period of our lives didn't last long) and my Mother never said a word as I tried my best from the driver's seat not to run off the road. Finally I looked at her in the rear view mirror and asked her, "Could you PLEASE do something back there?" And she did. I hope I can be as wonderful a parent and in-law as mine have been, it's only the beginning but I've got great examples in both of my parents! BTW: Love the Cliff Notes - great touch!

Patti Tucker

Friday 17th of October 2014

This made me laugh because I can see me sitting back there all quiet, waiting, seeing if my intervention would be helpful. Otherwise: FIGHT ON! Your mom sounds divine; lucky you. And, I do love me some Cliff Notes ;)

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