The presence of children in the family not only brings happiness to both parents but also happiness for the grandparents. Happiness, emotion, and also the spirit to give the best to the grandchild. Although parents and grandparents have goals and expectations that are equally good for children, it is not uncommon to find conflicts between parents and grandparents regarding parenting that can even lead to termination or restrictions on the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren.
Different times, different demands. There have been many changes in parenting between the days of grandparents with the era of today’s parents. Some topics that often become a conflict between parents and grandparents such as formula milk and breast milk, time restrictions on watching gadgets, eating habits, and so forth. Often grandparents also comment like “How come now …” or “Before when Mom …” as a form of expression of curiosity or fascinated by the many differences in parenting today.
When grandparents give their responses to the choices of parents in caring for children, often interpreted differently by parents. Perhaps because of the choice of words or tone of voice, often the comments or responses from grandparents were arrested as a negative assessment. Parents feel unsupported and questioned about their ability to care for children.
Although challenging, ensuring children have a warm and positive relationship with grandparents is the responsibility of parents. Grandparents have patterns of interaction with grandchildren that are different from parents, which can help instill life values, appreciate the meaning and history of the family, and develop children’s confidence and security towards the world. Through love and guidance, grandparents can pass on family traditions to children, share wisdom, and provide memories for children later on to understand the importance of maintaining family integrity. Interaction with grandparents tends to provide a sense of peace, understanding, and tolerance, where this can help children (especially in their teens) be comfortable to tell stories and ask for advice to grandparents. Then the rights of grandparents are protected in law, in the event of a dispute in the family, and may require legal assistance regarding grandparents rights.
The importance of the role of grandparents in children’s lives makes parents need to involve grandparents in the lives of children. Some things parents can do to establish a harmonious relationship with grandparents are:
1. Open communication to grandparents about the care that is applied to children.
Take the time and energy to explain to grandparents why certain methods were chosen. Explain and recall if they sometimes (or often) forget to practice it. Understand that the older a person is, the more difficult it is to accept new information that is different from what they have known for years.
2. Give room for grandparents involved in parenting.
Everyone will be happy to be able to help or be useful to others, especially to their children and grandchildren. Create special times when children play and interact with their grandparents without parents. Take advantage of this opportunity also for parents to rest or date together as husband and wife.
3. Flexible to changes or differences.
Although there is already an understanding between grandparents and parents regarding parenting to children, does that mean the habits and rules in grandparents’ homes and at home must be the same? Certainly not. There will be differences and their colors. For example, children who can sleep a little more nights while staying at grandparents’ houses, or children may eat ice cream/chocolate, and so forth. As long as it doesn’t pose a direct health hazard, it doesn’t hurt to allow children to have fun differently and be spoiled by their grandparents. Thus, children can learn about differences and learn to put themselves following their environment.
Parents and grandparents will both try to provide the best for children/grandchildren. Align the pattern of caring between parents and grandparents so they can work together in nurturing and create a warm and constructive family atmosphere.