Aha! Parenting Blog

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10 Things You Can Learn from Grandparents

"Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild."- Welsh Proverb

"If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first." Lois Wyse

Your parents may not have been perfect. In fact, since they were a product of their times, not to mention human, I'm sure they weren't.  But many not-so-great parents become very good grandparents. Why?

Grandparents have some privileges parents don't. In addition, life experience has given them some valuable gifts. As parents, we can learn a lot from them.  For instance:

1. They don’t feel responsible and berate themselves for everything the child does.  Wouldn't you be happier (and a more inspired mom or dad) if you could relax about whether you're a good enough parent?

2. They get a break to replenish their own cups. Obviously we can't give our kids to someone else and go home without them.  But we can find ways to take time for ourselves so we have something to give our kids.  If we don't, it's pretty challenging to be an inspired parent.

3. They don't undermine a close relationship by punishing.  Sure, you need to set limits, as in "We don't hit in this family" or "It's time for bed."  But punishment of any kind, including consequences and timeouts, always sabotages your relationship with your child and makes it more likely that he'll misbehave.

4. They have more emotional maturity and have learned something about what really matters in life. Often, grandparents have the maturity to let a child win an argument when a parent would need to prove she's right.  Grandparents are usually better listeners. Quite simply, grandparents are short on criticism and long on love.

5. They have learned that kids do grow up and become solid citizens. They've learned through tough experience that kids go through challenging phases and come out ok, so they can keep a sense of humor about the child's foibles.

6. They know how quickly childhood passes.  So they want kids on their laps as long as possible, they don't tell a child to stop acting like a baby, and they would never turn down a tea party invitation to wash dishes. In fact, after the tea party they find a way to make washing the dishes fun and get the grandchild involved.

7. They know what a treasure each child is. So they're more likely to appreciate the unique gifts of each child and be understanding about the challenges each child brings into the world.

8. They know you don’t get another chance. Most parents of grown children look back with some regrets.  They know you don't get a "do-over." They show up now.

9. They know life is short.  Grandparents have seen their share of both sadness and joy.  They know that sometimes all we can do is grieve together, and the rest of the time, why not seize every opportunity to revel in being alive?

10. They never run out of hugs and cookies. Life is tough, and we all need to be able to count on the sweetness of someone who wants nothing more from this moment than to sit and listen to us talk. Grandparents know what a gift that is -- and they love giving it as much as the child loves receiving it.

I know not all grandparents can reach this ideal. They're human too, after all.  But shouldn't we take the opportunity to learn what we can from it, and adjust our parenting accordingly? 

It may be true that "Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild." 

I say, Why wait?



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