Being a grandparent has little in common with parenting. Being a grandparent can also be much more fun. Grand parenting is one of very few examples of having your cake and actually being able to eat it. In most cases, you are afforded the opportunity to love, play with, and spoil a grandchild without having to participate in any of the less enjoyable aspects s of child-rearing. After all, at some point, your grandchild will go home! All of the pleasure without any of the headache
Despite all the advantages, we do owe it to our grandchildren, and our children, to be the best grandparent that we can. As with all life endeavors there is no universal glove that will fit all situations. Different circumstances require different approaches and tactics. However, there are a few simple guidelines that should apply to most cases...
Respect the rules and philosophies of the parents: Maybe your approach to child-rearing is well aligned with those of the parents. Perhaps they are not. Regardless of the degree of alignment, a grandparent should, in all cases, respect the values, rules, and philosophies of the parents as related to the upbringing of their children. The surest way to sour the relationship between parents and grandparents is for the grandparents to overtly (or covertly) circumvent the wishes of the parents. If you find yourself tempted to deviate from boundaries set by the parents, just think back to how upset you would have been if your children's grandparents had attempted to do the same. This does not mean that you should kowtow to every parental whim, and you certainly have the right to establish simple behavioral rules within your home, but you should strive to adhere to parental wishes in all areas of major significance.
Leave the hard discipline to the parents: As a grandparent you have the firm right to demand respect from your grandchildren. You have the right to expect your grandchildren to obey your commands and to behave appropriately. In those inevitable cases where your grandchildren will attempt to explore or push your boundaries, you should feel free to exercise some degree of discipline. A "time-out" period or the removal of some cherished privilege can be effective responses and deterrents. If a situation becomes unmanageable you should consult with the parents. A collaborative effort (and a united front) between parents and grandparents will go a long way towards finding an appropriate solution. Use of corporal punishment should be left to the discretion of the parents.
Create memory-generating experiences for your grandchildren: This is one of the most cherished and rewarding roles of the grandparent. As adults, most of us have as many fond memories centered around our grandparents as we do our parents. With the majority of the heavy-lifting being done by the parents, you have the luxury of concentrating your energy into creating an environment that will foster happy memories. This does not have to be expensive or consist of extravagant effort. In many cases, the simpler the activity the better it is. Look for things to do that you know the parents simply do not have the time for. Don't be afraid to let your grandchildren have some down time if they appear to want or need it. Most kids today are involved in a myriad of activities. In some cases they may be over stimulated and exhausted. Allow them the pleasure of simply hanging out if they express a desire to do so.
Be a consistent source of encouragement: Encourage your grandchildren in everything they do. Be an active supporter in their sports and athletic activities. Watch your grandchild's face light up when they spot you in attendance at one of their activities. Do not hesitate to be a source of constructive criticism is those cases where it is needed. Be an active listener and let them know that their voices are being heard.
You will have favorites: If you have multiple grandchildren, it is highly likely that one or two of them will have a special place in your heart. In some cases, the reasons for that special bond are fairly obvious. In other cases, you may be hard pressed to identify the nature of your feelings. Trying to keep those feelings subdued is one of the most difficult aspects of being a grandparent. Showing overt favoritism to one or two grandchildren can be extremely hurtful to your other grandchildren who, through no fault of their own, may not occupy that special, secret, place within your heart. Do your best to make all your grandchildren feel equally loved and appreciated. In some cases that may be hard work, but it is a vital responsibility of all grandparents.