At this stage in life I’m doing things I’ve never done before. Playing rolls I’ve never played. Mother-in-law? Grandma? YIKES!
You know that leads to mistakes – especially where I am concerned. Mistakes that put me in what I call “Grandma Jail”. I’m going to share this post with you so that you can try to stay out of grandma jail. But I warn you, it’s not easy.
It was a beautiful Sunday evening and we were having a family dinner out under the fruit trees. The weather was perfect and every one was happy.
Until they weren’t.
The grandchild started crying and the mother was having none of it. She put the child on her lap and calmly told her there was nothing to cry about. Apparently my perfect grandchild, that I only see once a week or so, has a habit of being a bit of a drama queen (and she does, I’ve seen it with my own eyes).
But I’m a grandma and I wanted to snuggle the crying child. When she stopped crying and got down off her mother’s lap she came straight to me and got her snuggles. She started to whimper again and I told her not to cry or her mean mommy would take her back.
You see, I’m a step-mom to a fabulous young woman who is herself a step-mom to a wonderful four year old girl. I should have known better. I know first-hand how hard being a step-mom is. Even when you have amazing step-children.
It’s damn hard.
But I did it, I said the unbelievable mean words.
I basically called her an evil step-mom.
The look my sweet daughter shot me would have wilted an oak tree. An entire forest of oak trees!
And I don’t blame her one tiny, little bit. I meant it as a joke to make everyone laugh but it had quite the opposite affect on my daughter and I. She was angry and hurt and I felt ashamed. I know better. Or I did as soon as I let the weight of what I just said go from my mouth to my brain.
She continued to glare at me.
I know, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. I apologized profusely.
I don’t know WHAT I was thinking. Ok, I was thinking I was being funny but it wasn’t funny.
Never refer to a grandchild’s parent as anything but wonderful, kind and good. EVER. Because grandchildren believe grandparents.
And here are some more tips for staying out of grandma jail
- Never step in and act as parent. Step back and let the actual parents do the work. After all, you’ve already put in your time.
- Never tell the parent that the child is anything but wonderful, kind and good.
- Don’t offer you opinion unless it is specifically asked for. Things have changed quite a bit since your darlings were little. You had plenty of time to screw up your angels and you’ve got to allow your children the same latitude.
- School, dress, food and discipline also fall under the tip above. Your child is the parent now and unless your grandchild is in actual danger it is wise to take a step back and bite your tongue.
- When in doubt – bite your tongue and say nothing. It’s not about you.
Unless you want to see your perfect grandchildren from behind bars, or cold, hard glares of anger and resentment (which is basically the same thing), you will want to wade into this grandparent thing carefully.
Here are some tips from WebMD about having a relationship with your grandchild while also supporting their parents.
- Talk with the parents about what kind of grandparent they would like for you to be for their child.
- Ask how you can be supportive of them.
- Express to them what kind of grandparent you would like to be.
- Communicate openly and freely with the children
- Can you listen to what they say with an open mind?
- Make an effort to be up-to-date with parents and grandchildren and the world they live in.
Revisit this list as grandchildren get older, parents divorce, your financial situation changes — multiple factors will affect the relationships, and your role will change based on your family’s needs and your abilities.
Have you ever found yourself in Grandma Jail? What rule did you break?
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