For grandparents who will be, or who are
interested in being, involved in the lives of their
peacefully parented grandchildren, familiarizing
yourself with this short list of Do’s and Don’ts will go a long way.
- Do follow the lead and respect the wishes of the parent at all times…across the board
- Do respect your grandchild’s feelings, body, choices and autonomy.
- Do ask the parent how you can help and support. Do offer to help with cooking, shopping and housework.
- Do familiarize yourself with and learn about peaceful/gentle parenting and childhood development.
- Do offer support and reassurance to your adult child.
- Do offer love and attention to your child and grandchildren.
- Do have fun. Play with, read with, walk, listen, and talk with your lovely grandkids.
- Don’t criticize or judge the parenting.
- Don’t offer unwanted advice.
- Don’t go rogue… trying to punish, mold, or otherwise influence the lives of your grandchildren in unsolicited ways.
- Don’t force manners, force affection, or force anything really.
- Don’t otherwise engage in childism.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how the parent wants things done or how you can help and support. New parents need lots of support. Be willing to be guided.
Your adult child has chosen this parenting style for a reason. Although you might not understand or agree with it, there likely has been quite a lot of thought that has gone into choosing this way of parenting. Try the best you can to trust your child and his or her decision. Research and scientific literature supports this way of parenting as more appropriate and effective as compared to an authoritarian style of parenting. The evidence is growing by the day. This means that spanking is out, yelling is out, shaming is out, blaming, comparing, manipulating and coercing…all out. Basically, if you would not interact with another adult in these ways, then there is no reason to treat any child like this. Children/grandchildren are to be respected and accepted for who they are. Yes, discipline, expectations, and boundaries still exist, but they look a lot different than they used to. However, this likely isn’t your job, so don’t sweat it.
This way of parenting might be different than how you did things. It might seem as a bit of insult to you. It’s not. The focus really is on the child and what is best for him or her. It has nothing to do with trying to prove anyone wrong. We don’t have the energy for that. Yes we have reflected upon our own childhood and have consulted new evidence and research. But this is not to say that you were bad parents or wrong. We simply have difference choices facing us and a different awareness. So, we are going to do things a bit differently and we’d love your support. After all, everything changes; everything evolves, and parenting is no exception. Your parents likely weren’t perfect, you were not perfect, and guess what…your adult child isn’t either. But this is our turn and this is the way we have chosen. We’d love for you to come on board and learn with us. At the end of the day, we are trying to do the best for our children.
* I realize that some grandparents occupy more of a parental role in the lives of their grandchild. As a result, some of this may be of use, while some of it may not.