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The 10 Things You Don't Say To Parents But Should

04/07/2013 07:55 am ET

SPECIAL FROM Grandparents.com

Take a positive spin
The shift from being the parent to becoming a grandparent takes a major adjustment most of us never anticipate. It's so easy to offer advice based on our years of experience raising children. It's so easy to see what our adult children don't. But we can get so focused on giving advice and telling them what they're doing wrong, that we forget to tell them what they're doing right. There's nothing like positive reinforcement.

Here are ten things to say to your adult children that will support them as they grow into the role of parent, just as you adjust to being the grandparent.

I respect how you're raising your kids.
You may not do things the way I did, but it's a different world today, especially given the state of the economy and all the pressures on young families. (Now could you please stop making fun of me for not being able to buckle the kids into their car seats or collapse the stroller!)

Please, let me do the dishes!
Or the laundry! Or change the baby's diaper, then make dinner! I'm here to help!

Don't worry; you're wonderful parents.
We all make mistakes sometimes--as I know only too well. So what if you let your daughter eat cupcakes for dinner every now and then? There were times when I let you run barefoot in the freezing cold and eat ice cream for breakfast—and you should have heard my mother! (And, true story, once I put fresh kibble in my son's bowl in an attempt to cure his habit of eating out of the dog's dish. It worked.)

Your children are wonderful.
All kids go through difficult stages--you did, and look how fantastic you turned out!

I'm here if you need me.
I realize that you're up on all the latest information about childhood safety, diet, education, and health, which is different than back in my day. I trust that if you want my advice or opinion, you'll ask for it.

All parents feel insecure sometimes ...
... especially with their first child. Parenting is an art that can only be learned on the job, no matter how many books you read or experts you consult. You know your child better than anyone. Just know that I'm here for you and if you ever want the benefit of my experience, say the word.

I promise to follow your rules ...
... as much as humanly possible. That means, I'll feed the kids according to your instructions, limit the treats, make sure they do their homework, then get them to bed on time. And I absolutely swear I won't start feeding the baby solids without your permission.

I support your decisions.
You're an intelligent, responsible adult with a good head on your shoulders, and I know that you think everything through carefully. If you want my opinion, I know you'll ask for it. (You cannot repeat this often enough.)

It's a privilege ...
... and an honor to be allowed to spend time with your children, because I know how much you love them and want to protect them. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in me.

I know I'm no longer the boss.
It is strange, especially at first, to be the grandparent and not the parent. The truth is, becoming a grandparent takes almost as much on-the-job training as becoming a parent. Please forgive my mistakes and know that I'm doing my best to support you and love your children.

Barbara Graham, a Grandparents.com columnist, is the editor of the anthology, "Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother."

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