parenting parents

Dear blogging nana,

I’m sure I’m not the only grandmother who is facing this problem, but there is no one I feel comfortable talking to about this.  I love my daughter and her husband very much but often don’t like the way they treat their 8 year old son, MY grandson.  I know they are stressed, both work, but they often respond to him with impatience.  The other night, while I was visiting, he asked for some ice cream while my daughter was preparing dinner.  Of course, ice cream before dinner isn’t a good idea, but my daughter responded so harshly, I could see how hurt he was.  I’m sure she could too, but she did nothing.

What should I do?

anonymous in the U.S.

Dear anon,

You are right. The problem you are facing, what to do when we don’t like how our children treat our grandchildren, is widespread.  This is how I see it.

Our society, despite vocal protestations to the contrary, does a lousy job at supporting young families.  The amount of financial pressure that young parents face today is inhuman–or even in-primate.  It makes no sense, while parents are doing the most important job they will ever engage in, raising a new generation, to have to struggle to support that family.  But, that’s the situation now and there are things that we as grandparents can do to help.

As a parent, our job is to love and support our children, not judge them or expect them to fulfill our expectations.  That’s still true.  That job, even as grandparents, doesn’t end.   It’s not quite the same, but there are a lot of similarities:  we get to appreciate them, show our confidence in their abilities and intelligence, offer genuine help where it’s needed,  be a good listener, and help them laugh.  When we can do that with them, young or old,  it’s impressive how much more flexible our children’s thinking, how much better at solving problems, how much more relaxed they can be.

Meanwhile, we grandparents need some good listener to help us laugh [and cry] as we share –and shed–our worries about our children.  The work we do as grandparents can be crucial in creating the conditions for warm, well-functioning families.

Good luck in this work.

questions for the blogging nana?  write


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