Everyone agrees we all make mistakes, but the mistakes that pinch with poignant pain are the mistakes we make in our own families. Especially as grandparents.
Since I have been a grandparent for all of 14 months, I speak as something of an authority. Even well-intentioned grandparents make mistakes, and we tend to make them in three distinct areas, according to an editorial in Grandmagazine entitled “Mistakes Grandparents Make.”
First, we tend to make mistakes within ourselves. We underestimate the transformation that takes place inside of us and in our relationships with others when we become grandparents. According to Grandmagazine, we grandparents need to understand changes in our own personalities and attitudes are necessary to be an effective grandparent. Humility and self-awareness are required.
Second, we make mistakes with our grandchild’s parents, either our own child or their spouse. We often forget to listen (really listen) to the parents and respect their right to make — and learn — from their own mistakes. We sometimes break their rules and don’t respect their boundaries. We salve our conscience by thinking, “Grandparents are supposed to spoil their grandkids!” But, by doing so, we undermine relationships all around. The way we parented might not be the way our children choose to parent. Painful as it might be, we need to recognize and respect that.
Finally, we make mistakes with those charming grandkids. Some grandparents are at one end of the connection spectrum, constantly indulging grandkids with gifts and attention, while others might occupy the other evil extreme, failing to stay in touch or ignoring their milestones and accomplishments. We must strike a healthy medium. Don’t smother grandkids, but stay engaged with them.
If we want to play an important role in the lives of our grandkids, we must avoid these mistakes and remember, always, to enjoy them. I wish someone had told me years ago how much fun grandkids are. If I had known, I would have had them first.