Now that Dr. Phil (aka Phil McGraw) is a grandpa, the plain-talking psychologist who hosts the popular talk show, has some advice for grandparents on how to have a more peaceful, loving and thankful holiday season. He offers nine rules in the November 18 cover story of USA Weekend.
The rule that resonates for me is:
Grandparents, know your limited role.
It’s really important for grandparents to know their boundaries and not contradict mom and dad. That’s the biggest problem I see happening. Grandparents want to spoil, which is our right. But you don’t ever countermand the parent, and that can really be a problem during the holidays. The time to negotiate is before you get in the heat of battle. You don’t negotiate when little Johnny is setting the cat on fire.
Ahead of time [parents] need to talk [to grandparents] about: ‘We’re really making a concerted effort to get little Suzie not to hit.’
Don’t undo that. Because seriously, [parents] can spend a week extinguishing a behavior with a child and then Grandma can come in and say, ‘Oh, that’s all right.’
You just erased a week. Don’t do that.
In my new book, When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: 4 Keys to L.O.V.E. Your Grandchild’s Parents, I remind grandparents that the most important way to earn your adult children’s trust is to respect the rules they’ve established by following those rules, whether the parents are present or not. When I interviewed moms about their perspective on the grandparent relationship, the most common areas of conflict that moms reported with grandparents are:
- Overindulging grandchildren with sugar, junk food, television, and gifts
- Not following the parents’ rules
- Questioning the parents’ decisions
Put simply, if you want to have a peaceful and joyful holiday season, respect your grandchildren’s parents and follow their rules.