Relating to Grandparents

Bridging the Generation Gap

You can take sensible steps to improve your relationship with your child's grandparents, and move past the grandparenting issues caused by the generation gap. Try these strategies:

  • Pick your battles carefully. Parents have every right to speak up about overindulgences or safety issues. Set reasonable parameters about the issues that matter, but don't sweat the small stuff.
  • Arm them with information. A lot has changed since your parents were raising you. Things that seemed normal then might be strange or even unsafe now. Give grandparents the facts calmly and politely, the way you would give information to any other adult. Better yet, give them articles, refer them to Web sites, and do everything you can to demonstrate that your ideas are about responsible parenting, not about ruining their fun or one-upping them.
  • Meet them halfway. Whenever possible, show a willingness to compromise. This will show that you care about them, and that you're hearing their concerns.
  • Hear them out. You don't have to follow their suggestions, but don't lose sight of the fact that they are a terrific resource. Though you may not agree with them, at least hear them out. If you don't, you might miss out on some valuable information.
  • Stand your ground. If you feel a grandparent is being unreasonable, politely point out that your child is happy and healthy when you parent him your way. If they react angrily, or you're not able to communicate with them, drop the subject. Later, when everyone has cooled off, hold a family meeting to calmly talk about the situation.

Grandparents provide so many priceless gifts to their grandchildren. With communication, love, and patience, this relationship can be nurtured and grow into one of mutual respect and great appreciation between parents and grandparents.

Additional reporting by Emily Perlman Abedon

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

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