The interesting thing about grandparenting little ones while still bringing up little ones at home is the necessary time each requires. Necessary time for instilling priorities and grounding in the relationship, necessary time for attention and care and necessary time for establishing order and authority. It’s a tough balancing act at times.
There’s the grandparents inherent desire to be accepted, appreciated, loved, etc., by the grandchildren — something that really is natural in children, but somehow, generally, grandparents don’t have that solid assurance from their grandchildren that they have from their own children. I think it has to do with the entirely right and appropriate authority of parents. But I think parents have a lot to do with the level of authority and respect represented and shown for their children’s grandparents. Children know their parents are their “authorities,” but they have this testing ground with grandparents… do they have to obey them or not? do they have to listen or not. Again, parents bear a great responsibility here: they must guide the level of authority and responsibility and obedience.
I like to think of it this way: when we have a job to do, we take responsibility for the planning, execution and completion of the job. If we don’t have the freedom to do the job completely, then we’ve not really been given responsibility for the job. Same with grandparenting. Grandparents need to be given the “authority” to look after the children, to be obeyed and to discipline when necessary. When the grandchildren know these perameters or expectations are set, they will have the freedom to love and obey the grandparents as they ought — and when the grandparents are sure of their place in the grandchildren’s lives, they, too, have the freedom to love and care for the grandchildren appropriately.
But if the grandparents are don’t have the blessing of the children’s parents to be true grand-parents, then they’ll naturally go down another path bcz they’ll still want to have the loyalty and affection of the grandchildren—the grandchildren will know they don’t have to listen or obey the grandparents and so the grandparents will seek, perhaps manipulative, ways to gain the hearts of the grandchildren and, ironically, the grandchildren will attempt to manipulate the permissive grandparents.
When the grandparents don’t have the obedience of the grandchildren their relationship will on shaky ground. If the children’s parents are seeking to train up the children in the way they should go, and yet have compromising grandparents to deal with, then the grandchildren will be torn by the guilt they will come to have if/when they behave contrary to parent’s wishes. They will be torn by split loyalties. They will be trapped in the snares of temptation and permissive grandparents. And the foolish grandparents will wonder: what happened here?
But if the grandparents parent the grandchildren the way their children are seeking to parent their own children, then there will be harmony and security. This harmony and security will not only be experienced by the children, but by the parents and grandparents as well.
So back to that balancing act of parenting and grandparenting simultaneously. We have noticed that we must be extremely careful when caring for our grandchildren here in our home. It’s not all that noticeable in other’s homes where we and both our children/grandchildren are present. But in our home, we see the necessity of consistent parenting for both our young children and our grandchildren. We cannot allow our grandchildren the luxury of being/doing/saying what we don’t allow our own youngsters to be/do/say. And yet… there’s this unique dynamic that we also need to work to affirm our children (the parents of our grandchildren) but deferring to them when discipline is necessary or backing up recent discipline with appropriate boundaries. Our grandchildren witness this as see us as a “united front” with their parents. And our own little children (the aunts and uncles of the grandchildren) see us demonstrating the very same care and discipline and so they also have affirmation of a unified consistency. I can’t afford the consequences of not doing these things… and the children would be poorly served if I didn’t.
More another time on grandparenting and parenting young ones.