Okay grandparents, it’s not in our nature to say “no.” After all, who likes to hear that? Not our grandchildren for sure: “ just one more cookie pleaeeeeeeeeeese!” and certainly not our grown children who ask us to perform a multitude of tasks often times forgetting that we too have busy full lives. “Can you please babysit again tonight?” or “Can’t you cancel your plans?”
Saying “no” is an expression of true love and consideration. Many times it’s beneficial for everyone, kids and parents alike… and even for your relationships with your significant other. Haven’t you at least on one occasion said “no” to that decadent dessert that just called to you on the menu? Well, saying “no” sounds the same when it comes to the grandparent corner. Try it. It can earn you respect, dignity… and promote thoughtfulness. We say, “Try it – you may like it…once in a while.”
5 Tips for Saying No
1. Don’t rush in. If your child (the parent) is trying to talk you into making some sort of big decision such as: babysitting every weekend for the rest of the summer, or planning a family vacation for everyone, make sure you take the time and think over your plans first. Yes, we want to help our children every way we can, but also remember, we need to have control over when we choose to help. Your child will appreciate any help they receive!
2. Keep the big picture in mind. The grandparent-grandchild relationship can be magical. You need to nurture, protect and savor it, even if that means (occasionally) staying quiet when it practically kills you, or (occasionally) smiling serenely when you just know your grandchild is wrong and you are right. And please forgive us for offering the extra hugs, cookies, phone calls or lunches. Remember what it is we’re really offering: sweet, unconditional love.
3. Establish boundaries. Try to maintain some boundaries, even just in your head, as you consider any new requests. Here’s an example…. Does your child think that you can jet in on a moment’s notice to attend a dance recital or babysit while they hop off to someplace exotic? Consider yourself lucky. On the other hand, those same parents might see popping in more often than they’d like as a problem. If that’s happening, make sure you give your child “pre-visit heads-up” (this also goes for hometown relatives) and take charge of the frequent house calls. Practice this: “This weekend won’t work, but how about sometime next week?” Then say it.
4. Keep in touch. Not knowing what’s going on can make new grandparents nervous. Remember, the new parents are as anxious about the new family addition as you are. Make sure to let your child know that you want THEM to call often and fill you in on your new grandchild. Learn how to use Skype, Grandma — it’s free, so you can coo and babble all you want while admiring the baby’s beautiful face… from afar!!
5. Let your kids know you have a life too. Grandparents are people too! Gone are the days of grandma and grandpa sitting in rocking chairs waiting for their kids to call. According to the AARP’s Grandparent Study Report, first-time grandparents are getting younger and younger—nearly half are under fifty when they have their first grandchild. You son/daughter might think that your willingness to watch junior on a moment’s notice is not the case anymore. Grandparents are more likely than ever to still be working full-time or enjoying a vigorous baby-boomer retirement with vacations and activities galore. Make sure to have a respectful relationship with your child so that you and they can plan ahead if they need help.