Dealing with the difficulties of being a grandparent

Being a grandparent can be a wonderful experience – but it isn’t always easy. On the one hand, you get to enjoy having little ones around again, without the constant responsibility of child rearing. But as a grandparent, discipline can prove a sensitive issue, especially given the different parenting styles of different generations.

Here are a few tips for dealing with these concerns which are unique to the role of a grandparent.

Disciplining your grandchildren

The responsibility for your grandchildren falls first and foremost to their parents. While it’s natural to still feel that your own children are still your kids, it’s important to respect them as equal adults, and recognise that they have the final say in how their children are brought up.

Different parenting styles

While many of us grew up with very strict discipline at school and maybe at home, styles of disciplining children have changed over time. For example, smacking kids is no longer seen as acceptable, because of shifts in society’s values. Whether you agree with these changes or not, it’s important to be aware that what might have been acceptable in the past may no longer be so.

Managing behaviours

It’s important to leave the behavioural management of your grandchildren to their parents. However if your grandchild behaves in a very unacceptable way in your home or when out shopping with you, and you feel you need to intervene, you may need to speak to his or her parents about it. In this case it’s important not to belittle their parenting style or to lecture, but to keep an open mind, and ask for their input and advice on how you should handle the situation next time. The chances are that if you ask for help, you will get a better response.

It’s also important to keep it positive – if you are babysitting your grandchildren, try to notice the good and kind things they do, and provide them with plenty of positive feedback. Children – like adults – respond well to positive reward.

How to avoid being a full-time babysitter for your grandchildren

As a grandparent, the chance to babysit and spoil your grandkids is something to look forward to. Young children love being with their grandparents, and there’s nothing like watching them learn and grow before your eyes.

With many families these days needing two full-time incomes, grandparents are often being asked to look after their grandchildren – sometimes every day of the week. While some grandparents are quite happy to do this, if you’re not, it’s important to set some clear boundaries.

Asserting yourself

Retirement should be a chance to enjoy your free time and please yourself after all the years of hard work. You might want to make plans to travel or take up some hobbies. As a grandparent, it’s important to realise that you have a right to your own life, just as your own kids have a right to theirs.

When your son or daughter wants you to babysit, you may end up feeling that you are being selfish if you don’t always give up your own desires to help out. However, if the amount of babysitting you’re doing is starting to leave you feeling resentful or overtired, be honest about this with your grandkids’ parents. Let them know that while you would love to help, there are some days when you need to rest or have time for your own life.

Don’t give in to guilt

If you are happy to babysit occasionally, let your grandchildren’s parents know. Hopefully they will understand and make some other arrangements. It might be helpful to have a clear arrangement, such as an agreement to babysit on certain days of the week.

If they are annoyed or offended, don’t back down for the sake of peace. Chances are they will accept your decision over time. You probably spent many years taking care of others – it’s not selfish or wrong to now want to have some time for yourself now, and having time for yourself doesn’t mean you love them any less.

Help take care of the next generation

Your children and grandchildren are precious to you. So it’s only natural that you want to help take care of their financial security too. That’s why it’s important to make sure you’ve got the right level of insurance.