The Issue: Ever wish you could tell parents or grandparents what changes you would like them to make?
Well, we decided to turn the tables a bit, since it’s the time of year when almost half of Americans make New Year resolutions. And most resolutions that are made deal with making changes to improve one’s life.
No, we’re not going to help you make your resolutions. We have enough trouble thinking up our own!
We propose something different: Grandparents come up with resolutions for parents. That is, New Year resolutions grandparents would like parents to make. And to be fair, New Year resolutions that parents would like grandparents to make. Then, maybe – just maybe – you could share this column with the other generation.
Ok, sounds good in theory, right? Whether or not this works, we’re willing to take that risk…and even asked grandparents and parents we know to help develop some New Year Resolutions for each generation. Hmmm…this might just spark a discussion between some parents and grandparents. Here’s to a great 2014!
Alright…here’s what I’ve gathered from some grandparents.
- Stop force feeding children and overscheduling them. Just let them be children! Children need free time for free play, not directed by adults…whether they’re preschoolers or in school. As adults, most of us get a break during the day. Children need down time, too!
- Have face-to-face conversations. That means shut off the computers, laptops, tablets, game devices, TV, cell phones and iPods. We’ve seen parents outdoors with their children. Great! Not so great? Ignoring their children, while texting or talking on the phone. Turn it off and put it in your pocket! Talk to your kids about what they see outside, what they hear. Play with them indoors or out.
- Be clear about expectations and routines, when grandparents are in charge. Instead of, “You fed him what?” try “We have these foods for her to eat in the fridge and in the cabinet”. Be specific about bedtime routine beyond what time. What stuffed animals, books to read, white noise, humidifier and by specific order of steps to follow. While we do our best to adhere to your list of what to do and not do…things won’t be done exactly as you, the parents, would. Remember we love our grandchildren and want them to be safe and well. And we really are trying to be consistent with your parenting practices!
- Respect our time! Most grandparents will stop everything to spend time with their grands or to help, when asked, with babysitting and grandchild care. We want to help. However, when we do so, please keep to the agreed upon time. If you say, “We’ll be back in two hours,” don’t stretch that to four. The older generation needs to know that when we commit to a certain time frame – hours or days – the parenting generation will respect that. We may have other plans or appointments. Or, just tire out being so active with grandchildren – a big change from our own daily routines.
- Don’t be so defensive! As grandparents, we do have information worth sharing about parenting or valid questions or comments. We aren’t all being critical every time we open our mouths. Maybe, we do have something important you should hear!
- Be in the moment. We know how much you have to juggle every day. Many of us still recall how challenging it can be to balance work (whether at home or outside the home); household; family; homework or home schooling; extracurricular activities; and all the rest of the demands on your time. We also know only too well how quickly children grow up and how soon they are on their own. Enjoy today!
Guess WHAT! The resolutions from parents are kind of similar! Maybe we are not all so far apart after all…
- Help us limit screen time for our children. Please try not to use TV, videos, movies or games on phones and tablets as a break. Ask us instead for ideas for activities to keep the kids entertained, while you take a breather or take care of other responsibilities. Trust me…parents have had to figure out lots of ideas for this!
- Try to stick to parent’s food guidelines, as we really want to teach healthy eating. And food allergies are real. Pediatricians and dentists tell us this stuff at checkups. We are not making it up!
- Spend time with our children, your grandchildren. Really. It makes us feel good to see our moms and dads spending time with our children. There are so many ways you can be involved. Ask us. We’re sure we can find something you are comfortable doing that the kids will enjoy, too.
- Be mindful of what you say, do and watch on TV, your laptop or tablet around children. Your grandchildren are really little sponges masquerading as cute kids. They hear EVERYTHING. Honestly, we know, because we hear about it at home and so do their teachers. Seriously though, please be especially mindful of content on TV, including ads. We’d love it for you to ask us what we feel is appropriate for their age.
- Which brings us to the final resolution: Be accepting of our parenting choices. We know that we did, watched and ate many of the things that make us cringe when our kids do them. And yes, we turned out fine. The world is a changed place, though, and there is different information today than when we were children. (Our children likely will say the same to us one day!) If nothing else, humor us… and be glad we’re doing our best to raise your grandchildren to be emotionally and physically healthy adults.
Oh, and the resolutions suggested for us, the parents? Yes, those are a lot of things we know we struggle with, and some of them are already on our list. If both generations are open to it, maybe we can start a conversation and help each other. Or at least, you can forward this column as a jumping off point. Or leave it in a conspicuous place….