Once a parent always a parent, even when your child becomes a parent. But now you have to maintain a strong relationship with your child and their spouse or partner, who are now both parents themselves. Just use the same reflective principles you used as a reflective parent. #1 Understand your child’s behavior from their perspective as well as your own. #2 There is no one right way to parent.
Here is what being a Reflective Grandparent looks like.
Here is your perspective: You have so much experience to share. You feel so well intentioned in giving your input. You know when you give advice you are just trying to be helpful and make it easier for the parents. You know that even if you disagree with how the parents are doing it and give your input about how they could do it differently that you are just looking out for their child’s well being. You are shocked, even hurt when they are not interested in hearing your advice or get angry at you for sharing it. And you feel really annoyed when they try and interfere with your relationship with your grandchild, by telling you how you are supposed to treat their child.
Slow Down! Reflect before you share! No matter how right or helpful or well intentioned you feel you are, bite your tongue! Make sure you look at the situation from their perspective.
Here is their perspective What they want and need is your support and encouragement. They want you to believe in them and to feel they are being good parents. They often experience your helpful wisdom as undermining their parenting, not believing in them, not respecting them as an adult or even worse, as criticism for what they are doing. They want you to be involved. They want you to love being with their child. But they want you to recognize they are the parents not you.
Now use your reflective capacity: There is no one right way to parent, even if your way seems so right. The new parents have to learn it for themselves. There is no way around that, even if you think you can give them a few short cuts. No matter how hurt you feel don’t take it personally. When they don’t want your input or when they correct you, it is not their intention to reject you or make you feel badly. It is their need and intention to step up to the plate, to be responsible and to take care of their child in the way they believe is best for their child. It is a noble goal on their part. They need your support and you confidence in helping them to achieve that. What they don’t need is for you to feel unwanted, or criticized or hurt.
Your reflection is your guide as what to do: As much as possible keep your advice and your hurt feelings to yourself. Share it with your other friends who are grandparents. They will understand exactly what you mean and how you feel.
Here is the payoff for holding back on advice giving: They will enjoy having you around more. And you will get your chance. Because when they really want your help they will ask.