Have you ever been called an interfering grandparent? These 5 attitude shifts will keep you from crossing from involved to interfering grandparent ever again.
It may come as a shock when the word interfering is connected to your name. It’s not what you ever intended to be and you’re surprised you are perceived that way. The good news is that you can back away from interfering, and cross back into being a fully involved grandparent with these 5 attitude shifts.
The Difference Between Involved and Interfering Grandparenting
Our goal is to be involved, not interfering.
Jerry and Judy Schreur in their book, Creative Grandparenting: How to Love and Nurture a New Generation, teach us that it’s a short walk from being an involved grandparent to being an interfering grandparent.
We have a pretty good idea of what involved grandparenting looks like: spending time in person or on the phone each week. Helping the parents when possible. Praying for the grandkids and bringing Jesus into the conversation.
But when does involved become interfering?
Interfering grandparenting is when you take on the role that belongs to the parents. When you go against their wishes regarding food, or activities, or gifts. When you discipline the grandchildren without the parents’ permission. When you criticize their parenting to your kids or the grandkids.
Interfering grandparents damage their relationships with their children and may hinder their access to the grandkids.
5 Ways to Keep from Being an Interfering Grandparent
Here are some principles from the Schueurs to help you keep away from interfering the next time you’re together:
1. Know that responsibility rests with the parents.
We are not responsible for how the grandkids turn out. Their parents hold that responsibility, and we need to let them raise their kids as they think best.
Remember: those kids are not our problem… just our joy.
2. Understand that authority belongs to the parents.
Parental responsibility brings authority. Their authority in their kids’ lives is from God, and we should not usurp it.
We had our days of responsibility and authority in our kids’ lives, but those days are over. We don’t have control, and we shouldn’t seek it.
3. Remember that assumptions can be harmful.
Talk with the parents before you purchase that big gift, or make plans, or speak your mind. Ask them what they think and would prefer.
And then do that.
4. See that context is important.
Don’t jump to the grandkids’ defense without hearing from their parents. There is probably more to the story that explains why the parents are resistant to the gift or the activity, or why they are implementing the discipline.
5. Believe that reconciliation is imperative.
Don’t be defensive if your children accuse you of interfering with their plans and expectations for their children. Apologize quickly, step back, and pay attention so you can recognize what interfering looks like when you’re tempted the next time.
As soon as I read this chapter, I called our daughter and apologized for times I’ve crossed the line into interfering. I told her I see the difference and asked her to help me live as an involved, not interfering, grandparent.
To recap, 5 ways to keep from being an interfering grandparent:
- Know that responsibility rests with the parents.
- Understand that authority belongs to the parents.
- Remember that assumptions can be harmful.
- See that context is important.
- Believe that reconciliation is imperative.
3 Reflection Questions
1. Can you recognize a time when you crossed into being an interfering grandparent?
2. What can you do to reconcile with your children about ways you’ve interfered?
3. What does it look like to be full of involvement and free from interference in your relationships?
Such a little distinction can make a big difference in fostering great relationships with our adult children!
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