Blog 8–WC Reflections & Resources

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During the past few weeks I have been hearing both positive and concerning stories about grandparent’s actions in and out of the home.  This caused me to question “What is a healthier role for a grandparent?”  I have often heard grandparents say, “It is my job to spoil my grandkids.”  Yes, it can be helpful to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren; however, in order to be supportive, grandparents benefit from respecting their adult children’s role as the primary caregiver unless this parent has given up that right.  Helpful grandparenting requires thoughtful communication, respectful interaction and acceptance of family hierarchy and healthy boundaries.

It is harmful when grandparents come in and take over for a parent and/or undermine what a parent has told his/her children what they can or can’t do.  This role and hierarchy confusion may continue if grandparents spend money or involve their grandchildren in things that they did not get permission to do.  These become mixed messages for the children and a method of splitting the adults against each other.   The parent may feel confused, angry and/or hurt by their parent’s actions due to his/her authority being discounted and due to reminders of unresolved wounds from childhood.  The grandchildren may take advantage of this tension to get what they want whether it is in their best interest or not. Parents also need to be clearer about what they want or need from the grandparents.

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As a grandparent, you might not like what your adult child is doing or not doing to raise your grandchildren.  If this is the case, it would be beneficial for you to reflect on how you raised your own child and what kind of relationship you currently have as adults.  If you want to continue to have a relationship with your adult child and your grandchildren, you may need to consider how you are treating them.   Have you been able to own where you may have fallen short in your parenting and made amends with your adult child?  Consider if your actions or comments are building connections with your family or tearing them down.

Children are dependent on the adults in their lives to meet their basic needs and to teach them how to get along with others and to live in the world.  If you don’t agree with something your adult child is doing, consider if it is really your place to say something and if you do, address it away from the grandchildren.  There are multiple ways grandparents can support their extended family such as passing on family traditions, sharing stories from childhood or about their parent as a child, teaching values especially related to how to treat others, creating memories related to work and play and loving each other throughout the ups and downs of life.

Grandparents may have the best of intentions to love their grandchildren and to be a part of their lives.   I challenged you as grandparents to do this in a manner that builds and maintains healthier family connections.  That is a legacy to be proud of!

During the past few weeks I have been hearing both positive and concerning stories about grandparent’s actions in and out of the home.  This caused me to question “What is a healthier role for a grandparent?”  I have often heard grandparents say, “It is my job to spoil my grandkids.”  Yes, it can be helpful to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren; however, in order to be supportive, grandparents benefit from respecting their adult children’s role as the primary caregiver unless this parent has given up that right.  Helpful grandparenting requires thoughtful communication, respectful interaction and acceptance of family hierarchy and healthy boundaries.

It is harmful when grandparents come in and take over for a parent and/or undermine what a parent has told his/her children what they can or can’t do.  This role and hierarchy confusion may continue if grandparents spend money or involve their grandchildren in things that they did not get permission to do.  These become mixed messages for the children and a method of splitting the adults against each other.   The parent may feel confused, angry and/or hurt by their parent’s actions due to his/her authority being discounted and due to reminders of unresolved wounds from childhood.  The grandchildren may take advantage of this tension to get what they want whether it is in their best interest or not.   Parents also need to be clearer about what they want or need from the grandparents.

As a grandparent, you might not like what your adult child is doing or not doing to raise your grandchildren.  If this is the case, it would be beneficial for you to reflect on how you raised your own child and what kind of relationship you currently have as adults.  If you want to continue to have a relationship with your adult child and your grandchildren, you may need to consider how you are treating them.   Have you been able to own where you may have fallen short in your parenting and made amends with your adult child?  Consider if your actions or comments are building connections with your family or tearing them down.

Children are dependent on the adults in their lives to meet their basic needs and to teach them how to get along with others and to live in the world.  If you don’t agree with something your adult child is doing, consider if it is really your place to say something and if you do, address it away from the grandchildren.  There are multiple ways grandparents can support their extended family such as passing on family traditions, sharing stories from childhood or about their parent as a child, teaching values especially related to how to treat others, creating memories related to work and play and loving each other throughout the ups and downs of life.

Grandparents may have the best of intentions to love their grandchildren and to be a part of their lives.   I challenged you as grandparents to do this in a manner that builds and maintains healthier family connections.  That is a legacy to be proud of!

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Blog entry 7–WC Reflections & Resources

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Last week I had an older gentleman in my office. I let him know that it was nice to see him.  In response, he stated, “It is good to be seen.”  I was touched by his response due to encountering so many people in my office who don’t feel heard or seen by persons in their lives.  It was a good reminder of how we as adults teach children about these values by “being present” in each other’s lives both physically and emotionally.

Caregivers demonstrate being present through the quality of your interactions with your children. There are very basic tasks to facilitate this process such as looking at your child on her eye level, being in the same proximity when talking to her, clarifying what your child is saying and/or engaging in reciprocal conversation.  Being present is also shown by setting time away from technology (i.e. cell phone, computer, tablet, TV), by observing differences in your child’s appearance or energy level and by socializing during mealtimes, playtimes or household chores.  Invite your child to help you make dinner or to fold laundry–there is nothing like being wrapped in a warm item of clothing or bedding.

You as the caregiver will potentially feel less stressed due to your actions being more preventative and proactive vs. reactive and out of control. Any time you are distracted or stressed as a caregiver, this energy transfers to your child resulting in her acting out, shutting down, isolating herself or being overly clingy.  This is a part of caregivers learning to boundary their issues from your children and to take better care of yourself.

Children need to be seen and heard in order for them to feel good about themselves and to learn how to connect with others in a positive manner.   Children are dependent on adults to teach them how to be in the world and how to relate with others.  When a child has this need met, she will develop the following outcomes:

  • An increased sense of belonging and attachment with her caregiver;
  • A sense of security and feeling valued for who she is;
  • An ability to seek out guidance and/or comfort rather than keep things to herself, acting out or shutting down;
  • A means of trusting others and learning to accept support as well as to soothe herself.

I challenged you to be more present with your children. Practice this by slowing down and being more in the moment.  In the long run, you as caregivers will be adding to the cumulative impact of your parenting style on your children as well as creating healthier memories.  The more positive interactions you have with your children the fewer negative interactions will you have.

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