How do grandparents figure out grandparenting? They do what they did to figure out parenting: stumbling forward doing the best they can to love all the adults and kids in their lives. We have received numerous requests to do a show on grandparenting from our many listeners trying to navigate this exciting yet dicey road. We have gone to the experts to bring parents and grandparents a “survival guide” in this episode! Richard and Linda Eyre are among the most popular speakers in the world on parenting and families. Their clients and audiences range from The Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and major corporations and associations to a wide array of school, civic, church and community groups. They’re also N.Y. Times #1 Bestselling authors of 30 Family and Parenting books, two of which, just released, are on Grandparenting! The Eyres offer solutions to help grandparents AND parents in their crucial roles. Below are some of the things we discussed: How do grandparents navigate situations when there is conflict between what you as a grandparent want and what your kids want in relation to the grandkids? All grandparents have to deal with trying (or not trying) to bite their tongue when they don’t exactly agree with how their kids are parenting. (Cue the inner voice saying “Can’t you just say ‘No’ for once and be done with it?!?) What are grandparents to do? The question really becomes “To bite or not to bite...that is the question. Richard warns about going to either extreme: saying too little OR saying too much. Communication is the key to finding that balance. One thing that has worked really well for the Eyres is a pact that they have made with their children. Both sides acknowledge that grandparents have wisdom and advice that could help the parents. The pact is that the grandparents will share their advice and the parents agree not to be offended. In return the grandparents agree that if the parents don’t take the advice that they won’t be offended. The Eyres have found that this pact has reduced conflict and bad feelings. Richard stressed above all, that the most important thing for grandparents to remember is that the parents are in charge. Sometimes that’s hard, but it’s the truth. Family Culture. Every family has a culture whether that has been developed consciously or unconsciously. It’s crucial to recognize your family culture and develop it. The positive aspects of that culture are going to spread into your children’s homes and become even better. There have been studies done that show how important a child’s connection to their family heritage is to their own success and resilience in life. Linda referenced an article in the New York Times that showed that post 9/11 kids who knew the most about their family narrative had the most resilience in their recovery. If you would like to read that article, here is the link: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html What are some ways that grandparents can share these family narratives? Richard and Linda shared three of their favorite activities. Listen in to hear an in-depth explanation of these ideas. Turn these family stories into bedtime stories that can be read to the grandkids at night. Put a family tree up in a conspicuous place where kids can see how they are connected to the names they hear. Create a “Grandma Hazel Day”. Hazel is Linda’s mom. Each year they have a day to celebrate her by doing things that she loved such as play football, work hard, and eat Hershey’s bars.
What kind of Grandparent do you want to be? Each grandparent has a decision to make about what KIND of grandparent they WANT to be. Linda and Richard have created four groups that grandparents fall into. Disengaged: These grandparents have the mindset of “I have raised my kids and now I’m done.” Limited: These grandparents love to see their grandchildren in limited doses and on their own terms. Supportive: These grandparents know their kids need all the help that they can get and they want to be there for them. Proactive: These grandparents know that their children are the stewards over the grandkids, but they know that they have something special to offer as well. This is a multi-generational approach and requires a lot of communication with the best end result. What about those who feel overwhelmed by the idea of being the proactive grandparent? Don’t give up, even when it’s hard. Kids are forgiving and they know when you’re really trying and making the effort. That is the most important thing you can communicate to them. Grandparents can give unconditional love to the grandkids, often more easily than parents because they aren’t in the trenches.
What are some actionable ideas about how grandparents can connect to grandchildren? Don’t just think of grandparenting as Collective. If large groups at once overwhelm you, remember that most of the really important stuff happens one on one. Take grandkids to lunch. While you are talking, take notes so you can remember the details of their lives, their thoughts, and feelings. They know when they see you writing it down that you care enough to remember. Have a Grammy Camp. Bring the kids over according to age groups and have some bonding time. Share your loves, interests and talents with them. Let them see you as more than just grandma or grandpa. Ancestors Day. Have grandkids come over and dress up as ancestors and have them act out a scene from that person’s life. What are some helpful ideas about how grandparents can handle Christmas? Give the grandkids financial parameters and have them make a wish list on Amazon. It makes it easy for you to get them something they actually want, and it’s still a surprise because they don’t know which item they will receive. What are some helpful ideas about how grandparents can handle birthdays? Richard writes a handwritten letter on each of the kids’ half birthdays. That way he knows it won’t be overlooked by everything else they are receiving. He tells them all the things that he loves about them. Linda sends a little money with a letter telling them her favorite memories of them.
MOM / GRANDPARENT SQUAD CHALLENGE RICHARD: The best way to become a better grandparent is to become a better marriage partner. Find a way to be a better partner this week and see how that skill translates into becoming a better grandparent. LINDA : If you don’t know how to text, learn how this week. This is the best way to contact grandkids (especially teens). They’ll answer right away! This week text your grandkids (who have cell phones). Tell them you love them, joke with them, or invite them to lunch! We want to thank the Eyres for spending time with us! To learn more about Linda and Richard Eyre, visit www.valuesparenting.com Or visit @RichardLindaEyre on Instagram or visit Linda’s grandmothering book site which contains recipes and more at www.grandmotheringbook.com LINKS TO BOOKS WE DISCUSSED: Being a Proactive Grandfather Grandmothering Life in Fall I Didn’t Plan on Being a Witch