THE BLOG

Grandparents' Day According to Barbara Graham

10/14/2009 02:27 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

This Huffington Post article by Barbara Graham strikes upon a similar theme as I recently wrote about in my blog . Graham argued for letting grandparents speak their minds regarding parenting. I called for parents not to abuse grandparents' generosity by enrolling them as their kids' personal chauffeurs. We both call for parents to recognize the proper role of a grandparent, but I want to comment on some of Graham's remarks.

Specifically, grandparents are not their grandchildrens' parents, and as such, they should try to leave parenting decisions to their own children. When they are involved in day-to-day activities with their grandchildren, however, it can be hard not to assume the role of head decision maker. If this is the case, grandparents should not be afraid to speak their minds, as Graham argues, but they should cede the final decision to the parents.

In today's world, where both parents might be working (or as a single parent be very swamped for time) and situations require an adult to transport to or supervise a child's event, grandparents are often pushed into duties they never signed up for. Instead of an occasional stint babysitting or a weekend with the kids, these individuals are being asked to act as replacement parents, only without the same authority. For example, too many times a grandparent brings a child into my office for a checkup only to discover she needs her son or daughter's permission for the office visit. By medical regulations, doctors are not even allowed to discuss the child's condition with grandparents unless the parents have written a note granting that privilege ahead of time.

Grandparents have difficulty maintaining that elusive middle ground of getting involved without interfering. It is often hard for them to keep quiet when they have their own opinion in regards to proper parenting. At the same time, some fear to give advice even when they feel they have useful thoughts to share, lest they anger their own children and thus lose time with their grand children, something that Graham warns about.

I am not a grandparent yet, and I may not be for quite a while, but one thing I have learned from observing many grandparents over the years is that it takes a very special person to give that real love only a grandparent can provide while still allowing parents to raise their children to the best of their capability.

As a grandparent, if you continually doubt your son or daughter's decisions while raising a child, just remember that you raised them well. Unless there is something very urgent that you need to share and argue about, let them be parents, and let you be a great and loving grandparent, one your grandkids will always treasure.