Four Tips for Cooperative Grand-parenting

Grandkids in color smallCarol and I entered into the sacred world of grand-parenting just three years ago, so forgive us if we are naive and think that the world is all sunshine and rainbows when it comes to this new endeavor. The love we have experienced with our daughter’s two little ones is beyond description and it has changed us forever. The interesting thing is this; many of the counseling clients I work with are dealing with in-law and grandparent issues. So, I get a unique perspective from those that are struggling to find balance and grace with those they love dearly; their parents.

One day, it dawned on me that, ‘we may be the trouble making in-laws?’ This idea, helped us to step back and evaluate how we were affecting our kids. We challenged our motives and actions on being the valuable resource and ally we desire to be for them. Our purpose is to create a blessing for them, not a bummer.

The holiday’s seem to bring out a lot of these conflicts that provide for contention, frustration and bitterness. Here are four tips that may be useful in becoming the blessing you were created to be:

1. Be prepared

Childproofing: Getting ready to have the grandkids can be a major undertaking both physically and emotionally. If everyone is coming to your house, it needs to be as child-proof as possible. Some moms are more cautions, fearful and reluctant than others. When they are young, it’s our responsibility to provide a safe environment for them to wander. No parent wants to leave their little darlings at a house that’s not set up for them. To be a blessing to our kids, they need to be able to relax when the kids are with us. If they are worried about their safety, they will not be able to enjoy themselves. It’s up to us to make that happen. Honestly, we have acquired more baby stuff at our house now for the grandchildren than when our own offspring were little.

Playtime: None of us are getting any younger, in fact, we all now know why we have kids when we are young, it’s exhausting! With that in mind, we have be prepared to be energetic and ready to play when we are with the them. As they get older, they will actually require more energy from us. It’s not really taxing to hold an infant. However, it may take a 5 hour energy drink to play soccer with a 10 year old. Not to mention the advil for afterward.

Patience: The emotional part of grand parenting can be the most demanding. Because it’s been a long time since we parented a toddler, it’s easy to forget how many tantrums an hour you get to enjoy. If there are several kiddos melting down around you, the joy only gets multiplied. Are you ready for it? I hope so, because these are precious opportunities to show God’s grace and mercy to the next generation.

2. Be who They Need you to be, not What You want to be!

Whatever idea you have about being a grandparent may come from your mom and dad or even your grandparents. I think we need to put those perspectives to the side and actually ask our kids what they need from us. These are our moments to deny ourselves, pick up our cross and meet the needs of our children. These are things they need:

    • Keep your word-If you say you are picking the kids up at 3 pm, pick them up at 3 pm. Don’t call in the morning and try to reschedule something that’s more convenient for you. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If you promise to take them to the ball game, make sure that you can get the tickets and get it done. If you tell them you want to have breakfast with them sometime soon, make it happen. NOTHING is more painful than dealing with unfulfilled promises by grandparents. What are your kids suppose to tell their son/daughter when you don’t show up for their games? Grandpa was too busy playing golf with his buddies to come to your event? Or, Grandma had to go shopping?
    • Permissive or disciplinarian-There is a lot of space between these two extremes and it is up to us to find out what our kids want from us. Are bedtimes flexible or firm? Are sweets acceptable? What quantity? How much media is permissible? How much freedom with media is allowed? Do we have internet protection installed? Then the ultimate question: Can we spank them? These are vital to today’s cultural struggles and we need to enter the battle ground with our kids to help guide and protect their children. If our kids need us to be as fun as Disneyland, than let’s to that. If they need us to be as structured as West Point, then we make that happen, also. It’s probably a combination that they want, and it’s up to us to work with them to find it.

3. Enjoy Who They are, not Who You want them to be.

You may have been a major league baseball player, and your son might have followed in your footsteps. What if  your grandson loves soccer, the trumpet and skate boarding? It’s time for you to know names like Messi, Armstrong and Hawk. You will need to become familiar with red cards, the arban, and how to do a 50-50 grind. Your world is going to change, enjoy it, anticipate learning a thing or two along the way. If they get into swimming, brace yourself for some long days spent pool side. I promise, you will not regret attending one of those meets.

We must be willing to engage our children’s children in their worlds. If they are musically inclined you will be sitting at a lot of recitals. These are precious moments that we don’t want to miss out on. Make every one of these events a celebration of talent, persistence and achievement.

4. Never, ever, ever give parenting advice……unless they ask for it.

Here’s the thing, we had our chance. The reality is, we are still parenting our kids…a little. We guide with grace, humility and patience. They are trying to parent by combining their collective experience, thoughts, and ideas. They are figuring it out, just like we did. Let’s let them! If they really want our opinion on something, they will usually ask for it.

Often, without knowing it, we can make comments that can destroy the harmony we are actually trying to build in our relationships. These remarks are never a blessing, and usually lead to pain and bitterness. These are Major Bummers:

“Have you considered spanking?”

“Is she always like that?”

“My, isn’t he a little bratty today?”

“That one sure has a temper”

“You are spoiling her/him”

“You never got away with that when you were that age”

“A little candy won’t hurt them”

I think that it’s our job to find the good in all things that are happening. Following Romans 8:28, we need to be looking for the blessings around us and speak them to all our progeny.

Perhaps we all should apply the “Thumper rule”. Remember from the movie Bambi, “momma says, ‘if you can’t say somethin nice, don’t say nothin at all”-Thumper. Every grandparent can heed this rule. Our words should always be an expression of grace, especially to those who God has brought into our families.

Wouldn’t it be fun to praise our children for their creative choices in parenting? Wouldn’t the simple words of, “I love how you love your kids”, bring joy and instill confidence in them?

“Dear Lord, help me to be a blessing to my children and their kids. Grant me the strength and patience to be the grandparent that they need me to be. Amen”


  1. Judi Staggers says:

    Thank You Scott for your wise insight of Grandparenting. This is truly a wonderful new season in our lives. ❤️❤️

  2. Brenda Diane Sloan says:

    You forgot the part about asking what thegrandchild wants for bday and Christmas. And then trying to accommodate that instead of completely ignoring their gift list and buying education gifts or books YOU think they should read. Or things YOUR child liked at that age. Or after asking your child, “Can grandkiddo fly down by herself after she’sof age?” You say no, that answer gets ignored, and you pose the question directly to the grandchild. Causes issues.

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