We’re young and strong enough to be a real influence on our grandchildren’s lives and help our kids with the most difficult job of theirs. But we cause more harm than good when we take over their role as parents – this infantilizes them, compromises their independence, and undermines their self-confidence. If you’re having boundary problems, ask yourself these questions:
. Do your kids have a right to raise their kids their way, even if it’s not the way you raised them?
. Do your actions undermine their confidence in their ability to parent?
.Is what you want to teach, do, or give your grandchildren acceptable to their parents?
Q. My son and his wife have a new baby, but they’ve had no experience with infants, and I’ve raised four. My daughter-in-law ignores my suggestions, refuses my help, and hardly lets me get my hands on the baby. What’s wrong with her?
A. Remember how scared, confused and incompetent you felt with your first baby? That’s how she’s feeling now. And although you’ve had more practice, she knows her baby’s needs and routines better than anyone else does. Reminding her will shore up her confidence; once she’s surer of herself, she’ll be glad to share the baby with you.
Q. My grandson wants something his parents say they can’t afford. I can, and I want to give it to him. Should I?
A. Talk it over with your children, who may be using money as an excuse when they really have other objections, like feeling that it’s not reasonable, suitable, or something they want him to have. That’s their decision – respect it. And if they set conditions on your gifts, abide by them.
Q. Our kids used to go to church, but stopped when they left home. Now they’re raising my grandchildren without any religious training. It’s okay for them to do what they want, but is it fair to their kids?
A. Your kids have a right to make their own religious choices; while that doesn’t preclude you from asking their permission to take your grandchildren to church with you, it doesn’t mean you can override their veto.