Grandparents love indulging grandchildren, love surprising them, love giving them presents, and love seeing the smiles on their fabulous faces when they walk in the door. It’s so much fun! Isn’t it?
A recent grandparent poll asked grandparents this question: Do you have a grandparent rival? 62% said, Yes I can’t help it and 38% said, No we’re fine. The response to the 62% group was don’t be surprised or embarrassed it’s natural, if you feel a bit competitive with the other set of grandparents and want to be the favorite… or at least on your grandchildren’s favorite list.
But of course, being the favorite grandparent every minute of every day isn’t always possible. First of all, no grandparent can always give their grandchildren everything they want and never say no. Grandparenting may be more fun than parenting, but it’s not a free-for-all. As my grandmother use to say when she had to say No,”anybody can be your friend but my job is to be your grandmother.”
The truth is you probably can’t out do all the other sets of grandparents all the time even if you wanted to. But thank goodness grandparents don’t have to. Just like grandparents, grandchildren have enough love to go around. We can love all our grandchildren and they can love all their grandparents! You may not be your grandchildren’s only favorite, or favorite every day, but if you treat them with love and respect, you will always be a winner in the end. And so will they!
And finally, if you feel like you’re losing the “favorite” race from time to time because you’re the grandmother-in-law and your daughter-in-law prefers her own parents’ brand of grandparenting to yours, you’re probably right! The same Grandparenting poll found 57 percent of paternal grandmothers (that’s the husband’s mother) often felt left out.
It went on to say, After all, your daughter-in-law is parenting the way she was parented by her own mother and in some circumstances it may have been a grandmother, aunt, older sister, or a father who did the parenting but try to remember they did their best.
After all it’s familiar to her and seems “right”. And besides, you were the first woman in her husband’s life, know him longer and better than she does, she’s probably compared to you too often, and if you have a daughter of your own, you may play favorites yourself without even realizing it.
Grandparents who live far away worry that grandparents who live closer will be preferred, and the grandparents with less money worry that wealthier grandparents will gift their way to first place. And if there’s only one child, the stakes are even higher.
So, being “the favorite” may be only a grandparent’s fun fantasy, but there are lots of fun things you can to do that can help you make your dream of being on your grandchildren’s “favorite” Grandparent list.
Here a four Secrets of Favorite Grandparents out of many
- Don’t buy love. Reassure yourself that your grandkids will love you even without the nonstop presents and then prove it. Set a one-month gift or candy moratorium, and just play with the kids when they come over, or read to them, or teach them something special, like a funny dance or a goofy kids song, instead of taking them shopping. Let yourself see that you are valued and loved even if you don’t dispense gifts.
- Don’t load them up with contraband. Gifts of toys and candy are a problem in another way too. If we take our grandchildren to the candy store, and they stuff bags full of candies and carry them back home, we’ve put their parents in the position of saying yes to junk or no to the special treats. The kids should not bring home varieties of toys and candy that are not allowed in their house, because then you won’t be given many chances to become a favorite!
- Do Listen. Ask questions about their likes and dislikes, their games and friends, real and imaginary, their TV programs, books, and their electronic games… and then really listen to their answers. Listen when they talk spontaneously, when they talk repetitively, when they talk endlessly. Listen when they are silly and serious. It’s been said before, their parents just can’t listen to them on a daily basis the way you can when they are with you on a visit. Be the grandparent who understands, the one who is patient, the grandparent who accepts what they say without a lot of lectures and criticism.
- Do find Similarities. Become one of your grandchildren’s soul mates and they will feel a bond that will never be broken. Start by going through “favorites” lists and compare notes. They are called the “Top-Three Lists”. Try top-three favorite… vegetables, meats, fruit, candy, snacks, colors, activities, holidays then do the “Bottom Three” you get the idea. Then go through secret wishes, hardest school subjects, least favorite chores, funny movies and so forth. Every time you find a match, make a big deal out of it. Shout, “Match!” Write it down but mainly remember it. When you talk to your grandchildren, even by phone, Skype, chat, text, e-mail, try to bring up one of those similarities. Like “Our favorite holiday is only three weeks away,” or, “I had to eat our least favorite vegetable today because it was in the salad already.”
- Make your home their home away from home. If you have the space, set aside the basement, a room, or even a corner of the living room as your grandkids’ very own space. Let them keep their toys and games there. You’re not only telling them they’re welcome, your backing up with actions. This keeps them wanting to come back again and again. And after all, that’s the plan!
Being a grandparent in today’s world isn’t what it use to be, it’s better! Lets embrace our exciting new role and create wonderful relationships with our children and grandchildren. Remember being a grandparent today isn’t just about babysitting and boasting and it is different from our predecessors.