There’s been a lot of talk recently about how indulgent grandparents can be, and how frustrating it is for us modern parents. We run a very tight ship – no sugar, strict screen-time limits and firm bedtime routines – and we get our panties in a twist if the oldies don’t follow our regimented schedules.
Newsflash: they raised us and they did a pretty good job. Some did better than others, but our kids don’t need to know all our grievances about our upbringings. Children deserve to perceive their grandparents like they do Santa Claus: jolly, kind and bearing gifts.
Here are eight memories I want my kids to have of their grandparents.
1. They let them eat too much ice cream
At home, my kids eat their recommended serves of veggies and wholegrains every day. If they eat a giant bowl of ice cream (or two) when they go to Grandma’s, is it such a big deal? Nah – they deserve to feel spoiled by their grandparents. I’ll just double up on the veg tomorrow (hey, I never said I was perfect!)
2. They let them stay up late
My five-year-old is very sensitive to any sleep loss – one late night can make her cranky for days. But will I dictate her exact bedtime when she goes to the G-rents’? No way, José. I’ll deal with her bad behaviour secure in the knowledge that she was busy making memories that will last a lifetime.
3. They were kind and loving
That time your mum spanked you when you were a kid? Don’t tell your kids about it. Those nights your dad worked late and you wondered if he loved you? No need to share. When our children are all grown up, we can choose whether we want to have a frank discussion about our upbringing and what we perceive to be our parents’ failings. But as young children, they don’t need to know any of it. We should let them see their grandparents as kind and nurturing people who love them with all their hearts.
4. They spent quality time with them
My mum lives across the world and my husband’s parents live in the next state. Because we don’t get to spend a lot of time with them, I try to facilitate quality time through regular FaceTime calls and visits. My kids’ grandparents are all very keen to squeeze as much love as they can into each visit, so I do my best to take a step back and give them the space they need to bond.
5. They didn’t believe in chores
At Grandma’s, you don’t have to tidy your toys, clear the table or make your bed. Heck, you don’t even have to look up from the TV when snacks are offered to you on a silver platter. It’s tempting to berate our parents for indulging our children, but instead, we should allow them to enjoy spoiling their grandkids. And let’s not forget that our little ones will cherish those carefree days forever.
6. They were wise
It’s easy to treat older people like they’re a bit foolish because they don’t understand the ways of the modern world, but we should talk to our parents the way we want our kids to talk to us when we’re older. Encouraging our kids to ask their grandparents questions about their pasts is a great way to create lasting connections and teach them to respect their elders.
7. They loved to teach them new things
My mum taught my eldest daughter to knit and my mother-in-law taught her to play the harmonica. That’s awesome because I don’t know how to do either of those things! It’s heart-warming to watch my children learn new skills from their grandparents.
8. They loved to take photos with them
I often have to force my children’s camera-shy grandparents to have their pictures taken, but I know my kids will treasure the snaps when their grandparents are gone.
Children only have a short time to get to know and love their grandparents, so why ruin it with rules and regulations? We should all take a step back and give our parents the space they deserve to form deep and meaningful connections with our kids.