Grandparents can be important in the lives of adolescents and young adults. Most married couples appreciate grandparents for all they do for them and their children. So states F. Philip Rice, professor of family life at the University of Maine, in his book "Intimate Relationships, Marriages and Families."
Today's grandparents, he notes, are younger in body, mind and spirit than those of previous generations and have much to offer today's youth. Grandparents can help grandchildren feel secure and loved and can help them know, trust and understand other people. Grandparents can help give a fine sense of values and help develop a wholesome attitude toward old age.But with all the benefits grandparents currently offer, they also can create problems for their married children, the grandchildren's parents. Rice lists the following areas for potential trouble:
- Grandparents may have different ideas about raising children.
- Some grandparents have a tendency to preach and give unsolicited advice to married children and grandchildren.
- Some grandparents become too possessive of their grandchildren.
- Sometimes parents deeply resent the affection that children develop for their grandparents.
- Grandparents are often puzzled about the roles they are expected to play in relation to their grandchildren.
To help overcome these sometimes troublesome areas, Philip Rice offers "A Code for Grandparents." Here it is:
1. Accept the fact that parents have the final responsibility for the grandchildren. This holds true unless the grandparents care for the grandchildren day after day in the absence of their own mother or father. Except in this last instance, parents should have the final word on how children are to be raised.
2. In cases of disagreements, grandparents should talk things over with their married children. Parents can learn from the grandparents; but in the final analysis the parents have to make their own decisions, even if the grandparents feel they are making a mistake.
3. Don't try to win the loyalty and love of grandchildren above their parents. It is always dangerous and unethical to come between children and their mother or father or try to draw children closer at the expense of their loyalty to their own mother or father. Don't try to turn the grandchildren against their parents or try to recast them in your image.
4. Remember that being a grandparent is not a full-time career. You should continue to live a separate life on your own. Get a job if you like. Keep up with friends. Pay attention to your looks and dress. Cultivate some personal interests; reading, music, a course of study, crafts, club memberships, volunteer service work, visiting shut-ins, paid labor or community projects.
5. Keep up to date. Don't look back to the old days by telling your children or grandchildren how much better things were then. Make an effort to keep up with the ways life has changed or improved.
6. Don't demand consideration because of your age or status in life. Try to earn it by winning respect and contributing to the well-being of the family. Help with chores; offer gifts if you can afford them. Do your share to ease burdens and to generate cheerfulness. Don't lean on others more than needed or expect that your married children owe you a living. The more you can give to others, the more you receive from life.
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