Are you a Groundhog Grandparent? We all know the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, in which Murray’s character finds himself living the same day over and over again, seemingly unable to break his routine and habits to make a difference in the end result. That’s also the paraphrased definition of insanity, according to Einstein.
What things are you doing as a grandparent that you can’t seem to stop doing? And, every time you do them, you get an earful from the parents (your kids) of those grandkids?
Stop doing things like:
- Constantly comparing what your grandchild is doing to what their parent was doing at the same age.
- Spouting words of wisdom like “Well you turned out fine!” every time you are criticized for using an outdated parenting strategy or talking about the safety measures today’s parents make when it comes to cribs, car seats, clothing, toys, games, etc.
- “A little too much screen time never hurt anyone.” Um, yes, pretty sure it has. Which is why the World Health Organization suggests not letting kids watch tv at all until they are two years old.
- “Well we fed you red meat three times a week and you tuned out fine.” Don’t discourage the eating habits of your kids as it pertains to your grandkids. If they’re vegan, you love their vegan lifestyle. You don’t have to embrace it as your own, but you do have to support it.
- Criticizing the way they dress the grandkids, or even themselves. As long as the kids are fed, healthy and (mostly) clean, don’t worry about the fact that they are wearing pajama pants all day.
- Posting images and stories of your kids and grandkids on social media without checking with them first. It’s just common courtesy, even if they are only 10 years old, or a baby.
Start doing these:
- Praising our kids for their parenting styles and strategies. It’s so easy to feel that you are an inadequate parent, as we well know.
- Offering to take the grandkids, if you can, on a regular basis instead of saying “You can ask me anytime.” Make it Tuesday mornings, Thursday afternoons, or every third Saturday. Whatever works. Setting a routine works for everyone.
- Invite your kids and grandkids over for dinner, or out for dinner, depending on your circumstances. Don’t say “You know you are always welcome.” It might not ever happen.
- If you live close, make meals and drop them off. You remember what it’s like to have a young family, careers, and other commitments. Don’t ask, just do. If you live further away, arrange for a meal delivery service on a regular basis – your dime – and make sure it’s something that they like, not your own personal preference.
- You don’t want to clean their house and guess what, they don’t want you to do it either. But if they are falling behind and you’re worried about it, arrange a house cleaning service, with their approval and their timing.
Above all, avoid being a Groundhog Grandparent by saying some of the words you want to say inside your head instead of outside with your mouth. If you can already picture your kids or your grandkids saying, “We know, grandma, we know”, it’s time to stop.