Grandparents are a gift…or at least they are supposed to be. I can’t tell you how many stories and scenarios I have seen where well intentioned grandparents cause an amazing amount of stress for their adult kids (the parents), their spouse and the grandkids.
What do you do if you’re that grandparent who feels your input is ‘necessary?’ You stop. Seriously. You need to stop and let your adult child parent their kids. Unless there is a situation of real abuse and/or neglect there is no reason to offer your opinion. Don’t give it unless it’s asked for. Instead….this should be your go to question: “What can I do to help?”
If you are the parent stuck in the middle of the grandparents and your kids it is very necessary for you and your spouse to have that kind, but difficult conversation that goes something like this:
“Listen, I know with 100% accuracy that your motives are good. I know you just want the best for us all, but….but…you are causing a massive amount of stress because you are blowing past healthy boundaries. We are the parents. You are not. Your role is to be supportive and enjoy your grandkids and leave the parenting up to us. If you cannot or will not do that, then we will need to step back and not spend much time with you until you can respect our position as parents in our kids’ lives.”
Sound too harsh? Maybe, but so is a divorce when you or your spouse won’t step in and have that conversation. We’re all adults here, so this is just what we have to do. It’s part of life. Harsh is having your kids messed up from being pitted against their parents or their grandparents, all of whom they love. Harsh is when our kids leave home and won’t even come back for holidays because of the stress and drama within family members left unchecked. Harsh is when the day comes where no one wants anything to do with the grandparents.
Think I haven’t seen it over and over? Think again. I’ve seen it so much it makes me sick to my stomach. It also makes me a little mad because all of this could be avoided with a difficult, but necessary conversation and a continuos guarding of the family boundaries.
Have the courage to do the right thing no matter who you are in this equation. It’s never too late to be a better person. Go for it! You can do this! It may get worse before it gets better, but it will get better.