Using and Abusing Grandparents

I think sometimes that I should have been born in an earlier generation. Or maybe it’s just because I was brought up in an “old-fashioned” household where Mom was a stay-at-home mom and Dad was the breadwinner. And family and friends were all one and we saw our grandparents with our parents often.

So this new generation of expecting the grandparents to be babysitters/daycare is completely beyond my realm of thinking. And quite frankly, I thank the Lord for that.

I am of the belief that grandparents should be just that. Grandparents. They shouldn’t have the responsibility of disciplining the children; they should be allowed to indulge them with the little things that grandparents do.

Like jelly beans from the jelly bean jar.

Or the occasional sneaked cookie from the cookie jar before dinner.

Or taking them out to dinner and a movie for a treat.

Or letting them stay up later than normal to finish the movie on the rare occasion that they sleep over.

Grandparents shouldn’t be a second set of parents.

We ask my parents to watch our children overnight once, maybe twice, a year. Usually for our anniversary my mom and dad will take all the kids and watch them for us so that Chuck and I can have a nice evening out to ourselves, get a hotel, relax and have a few drinks without having to worry about getting up at the butt-crack of dawn 7:00 am with the kids. They will also watch the kids for a few hours about 5-6 times a year when we visit friends in my hometown (which is where my mom and dad still live).

As the kids get a little bit older, they will probably start going on a one-on-one basis to spend the night with Grandma and Grandpa to have some alone time and do fun Grandma and Grandpa things like camping, checkers, Uno, eating pizza and bologna and cheese and crackers. Zachary did this last year with his grandma and grandpa and while it was an extraordinarily chaotic weekend, he did have fun.

And that, to me, is what being with Grandma and Grandpa should be about. I never want to put my parents or Chuck’s parents into the position of being the bad guy. Now, that’s not to say that my parents haven’t had to speak to my kids about their behavior while they are staying with them, but it’s not that often of an occurance. Usually, when we are at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Chuck and I are there too and WE are the bad guys and get to tell them no. And Grandpa and Grandma get to do the fun things with them. As it should be.

Now, I know I will hear a lot of flack about this and how my kids will never get to truly have a relationship with their grandparents if not left alone.

I say that’s complete bunk.

You would never see my kids with their grandma and grandpa and think that they don’t have a fantastic, loving, understanding, fun relationship with them. My kids lurve their grandparents. We go camping with my family at least 4 times a summer where they get to go fishing with Grandpa and play cards with Grandma. We see Chuck’s family about every 6 weeks and spend the weekend with them where the kids help Grandma with her weeding or other garden chores and play computer games with Grandpa. And that’s as it should be.

Both of our parents (minus Chuck’s dad who is disabled) still work full-time. They are busy with their work, volunteer work, hobbies, etc. They have raised their children. And I like to think that they raised their children to be responsible adults. I don’t feel that they need to be put into a position where they are helping to raise mine.

I feel fortunate though, because I know if I *need* that help, they’ll be there for me. And for that I am ever grateful.


TuTu's Bliss said...

I like to be around too. My mom understands and treasures the time with all of us together. My MIL has a harder time with it and actually screamed at me for not giving her enough "ALONE" time with the kids. She is always trying to talk my husband and I into taking long vacations when she visits. It's tough. We are a military family living far away and I stay home with our girls so to expect me to suddenly leave them POOF days at a time is just not something I like to do. But I also think every mom is different and grandparenting like mothering has it's own style that doesn't work the same for everyone. Hugs, Jen

mpotter said...

my 9mo little bean only has one set of g'parents (sadly). and i agree with you- they need to have the freedom to spoil her when she grows older.

it will be great to see that relationship develop. already when The Mr.'s parents come to town, they insist we go to dinner or something & they babysit. they're truly enjoying their first grandchild.

and i keep an open door for them.

i never knew my grandmothers very well (tho i do have fond memories), and both my g'pas died before i could meet them.
my older siblings tell great stories of them. i want little bean to be able to have what i didn't.

especially because both of my parents have passed--- i make sure that she'll know how important her gramma & grampa are!

Cammie said...

Im popping by from SITS to say hello. Great post!!!

Sara said...

I agree. We still haven't let our children stay away over night yet. And they have probably had Xander alone, I would say less than 6 times in his almost 6 year life.


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