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What Is The Job Of GRANDmothers?

By Donne Davis, Founder of GaGaSisterhood.com, author of When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand and a 2011 Top Ten Finalist in GRAND Magazine’s GRANDParent of the Year Awards
In the opening episode of  Downton Abbey season five, the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith) offers some advice in her usual forthright manner to the grieving new grandmother Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton): “It’s the job of grandmothers to interfere!”

As convincing as she sounded, I couldn’t help but chuckle and then cringe. That strategy is not a suitable mantra for today’s grandmas. In fact, it might result in grandma losing her privileges.

Interference is defined as intervening in an activity without invitation or necessity, in other words, offering unsolicited advice.

The most common warning I can offer to both new and seasoned grandmas is: Do not give unsolicited advice. Do not interfere.

 Why grandmas should not interfere:

  • You’ll undermine the new parents’ confidence.
  • You’ll irritate them.
  • You’ll erode trust.
  • They’re the parents — they get to call the shots.

What is the job of grandmas?

  • Be supportive and interested.
  • Be helpful but ask first.
  • Rave about the wonderful job the parents are doing.
  • Bring goodies for the parents.
  • Let the parents make their own mistakes; that’s how they learn.
  • If they share a concern with you, ask them if they want feedback.
  • If there’s a new baby, shower the older grandchild with attention.

So, thanks anyway for your advice M’lady, but I think I’ll pass on this one.

Order a copy of Donne’s book, it’s what every savvy GRANDmom should read. To order, just click on the book cover below. 



Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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