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    9 things grandmas should never do

    1. Never disrespect the choices of your grandbaby's parents. Questionable bedtimes, meals, discipline and more? Sure, you can disagree with the choices, just do so respectfully. As long as you ...

    2. Never voice your disagreement or disapproval with the parents in front of your grandchild. Mommy and Daddy are the last word. Grandchildren don't need more ammunition in their battle for getting their way, and repeating words of disagreement from Grandma would be sure-fire ammunition.

    3. Never secretly break Mom and Dad's rules. If tantrums mean Junior gets a time-out, give him a time-out. If 8 p.m. is bedtime, tuck him in when the clock chimes eight times. If Mom says only one popsicle, don't you dare offer a second. What? Grandmas are meant to break rules, you say? Notice I said never secretly break the rules. The key is to do it loud and proud and let everyone know in advance the rules will likely be bent a smidgen -- possibly even smashed to pieces -- when Grandma's in charge. Simply be upfront, not underhanded.

    4. Never talk bad about your grandchild's other grandparents. Even if you're clearly the very, very best grandma ever, your grandchild still loves his or her other grandma and grandpa. Accept it, deal with it, and don't act like a jealous 12-year-old girl about it.

    5. Never try to buy your grandchild's love. Any kid will smile, maybe even squeal with delight, over toys, gadgets, games and other goodies. But things shouldn't make up your PDAs (primary displays of affection). It's time and attention the kiddos want -- and what they'll most love you for.

    6. Never ply your grandchild for information about Mom and Dad. Maybe they're going through rough financial times, maybe the marital bliss isn't so blissful, maybe they won the lottery and don't want to share the dough. Whatever the case causing you to be Nosy Nelly, it really is none of your business. Don't recruit your grandchildren for special ops in attempts to make it your business.

    7. Never think your bad habits go unnoticed. Swearing, smoking, sipping too much of the sauce, double-dipping, overeating, complaining about your looks, your size, your big butt in the mirror. Little pitchers have big ears ... and eyes ... and impressionable hearts and minds on which such things are etched, things that can be detrimental to his or her physical and psychological well-being. Yeah, even grandmas have issues; just do your best to not pass them along to your grandchildren. They'll undoubtedly have plenty of issues of their own.

    8. Never forget that you're a mother, too, not just a grandmother. Love on and brag about the grandchildrens' parents any chance you get. This goes a long way in maintaining the bond with your adult children ... and increases your grandchild's ever-important pride in his or her parents.

    9. Never take the time with your grandchildren for granted. Every single minute with the little ones -- whether those minutes include stinky diapers and equally stinky attitudes or giggles and grins and big squeezes around Grandma's neck -- is a gift. Graciously accept it. Sincerely appreciate it. Heartily give thanks for it.

    This post is featured in the Grandparents September Blog Carnival: Grandparents and Grandparenting.

    Today's question:

    What would you add to the list of things grandmas should never do?

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    Reader Comments (61)

    First, you & Grandpa look young enough to be parents of adorable Bubby!

    Second, what excellent tips! I think every grandparent, new or experienced, should read them.

    I especially like the rule about being up front about breaking the rules - My kids have had ice cream for breakfast at grandma & grandpa's house, and while it certainly wouldn't have been my first choice for them, I know that it was a one-time thing, and that they ate other things during the day that were healthier (and thus making up for that odd breakfast! Thanks, Grandpa! ha ha - the kids still laugh about that).

    I also like the one about not voicing your displeasure/beliefs about the parent rules. I know when the kids visit grandpa & grandma that things will be a little different: mealtimes, what is served, bedtimes, etc. That took a really long time for me to accept and be able to work with, especially when the kids were younger. However, when grandparents don't agree with something the parents do, to say (however jokingly) that it just comes down to "Poor parenting," that is just wrong, wrong, wrong. Thankfully, my kids are of the variety who still think mom & dad are the Last Word in Everything, and didn't take that snide little remark to heart.

    I would also add this, but it's more for parents, I guess, than grandparents: Grandchildren should not be used as rewards or bait for grandparents. For example, "If you don't give us $1,000 for (whatever) then you'll never see the kids." Unless it is morally and legally in the child's best interest to have no contact with grandparents (is there something legally or morally sick and/or wrong going on in the grandparents' home and even with supervised visits, it's just too toxic to have the little ones around?) then don't use the kids as pawns in whatever power struggle might be going on between parent and grandparent.

    Also, don't play favorites with grandchildren. Some grandparents have absolutely no trouble with this, and love the kids as unconditionally and equally and wonderfully as all kids should be loved. But, even little things are noticed - when one grandchild is always invited for special weekends or outings with a grandparent, but the other is not (because they're a boy/girl, special needs, or whatever).

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

    Kathy: Absolutely excellent additions to the list! I especially appreciate the one about not playing favorites. Thank you for sharing!

    August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    Lisa, I haven't gotten a chance to tell you how much I've loved all the pictures of Bubby's visit. And especially the ones in this post. I'm so glad you got to spend so much time together (although I know it's never enough).

    This was a great post and I will definitely take your advice when it comes to being an aunt. I think I'm going to especially focus on bragging on my sister and brother-in-law whenever I'm around my nieces. I do think both their parents are wonderful and I think it's important for my nieces to know that.

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmber

    Thanks, Amber!

    I love your idea to use the tips in your role as an AUNT. See ... Grandma's Briefs really ISN'T just for grandmas! :o)

    August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    I too have really enjoyed the pics you've posted of Bubby's visit. I think you have covered it all for me Lisa. I have one grandchild at present but I like the one about not playing favorites with grandchildren by Kathy.

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie E.

    Debbie: I'm so with you on the playing favorites advice. But you and I both know it's luckily a non-issue when there's only one grandchild. Bubby is definitely my favorite ... and treated as such ... for now!

    August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    very sound advice--I have found all of those to be truisms

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkaye

    How about Never intrude on family time? I live close (as in down the street) from seven of my grands and ten minutes away from the other three. I am very careful to keep private family time a priority for my children and their families. I don't drop in unannounced and I always pre-schedule activities and outings with the grands with all of the parents first to make sure that they will not interfere with any family plans.

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Shelley

    This is an EXCELLENT post! #7 made me laugh. We were driving to Branson one time and Drake (about 4 at the time) suddenly piped up from the back, "Oma, you eat too much! And if you don't believe me you should look in a mirror!" It's a miracle I didn't run the car off the road!

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeth Zimmerman

    These are excellent rules! I'm going to have to print them out and give them to my parents- Granted I don't have children yet, but I think they're going to need some getting used to some rules. Especially seeing how they treat my dog.

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSuzRocks

    You are an excellent grandmother and these words should be pressed in stone Lisa!

    Everyone one of them!

    August 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermrsblogalot

    Grandma Shelley: Excellent advice! That's one I don't think of often because the distance between us makes any visit a truly planned event. Thanks for the input!

    Beth: What a charmer! See, little kids don't miss a thing. (The big kids don't either!) Thanks for the visit!

    SuzRocks: Too, too funny! I hope that means your parents are spoiling your dog, not forgetting to show you (the mama) loving and such! :o)

    MBA: You never fail to flatter me. I hope to never fall off the pedestal ... !!

    August 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    All wise words for a Grandma or Grandpa - the photos are pretty cute also :)


    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterkristin

    How about this one: Don't show the parents up at Christmas and birthdays. My in-laws always insisted on giving my kids more presents than we did.

    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

    I love your list! You are so thoughtful, both as a grandmother and a mother! If only all grandparents (read, my kids' grandparents) could follow this list.

    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMrs.Mayhem

    Grace: Ahh, yes! That is a good one!

    Mrs. Mayhem: You could always print it out and just kind of leave it laying around in their view, just to spice things up next time they visit. :o)

    August 18, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    As noted, we both have pretty much the same thoughts. I try to make my house a place where the kids can relax so I remove all the "Don't Touch" things before they show up.
    Love all your thoughts and ideas and I totally agree.

    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWalker

    This list is great! You have definitely hit the nail on the head with this one for sure. Might I add one more to the list?
    10. Never forget to tell your kids and grandkids how much you love them. Say it openly, with a hug and a kiss. Time is fleeting and I know I for one never want to miss an opportunity to let them know how much I care for them. Grammie and Poppy (hubby and I) try to never let a phone call or visit not end without showing our affection towards all the kids.

    I am so grateful for having found your site. I have enjoyed reading through many of your posts. Heading over to bookmark your feed right now. Looking forward to reading more.


    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

    These are great rules--I will bookmark this for the future!

    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life

    I wish my mother in law would read this, and better still, learn to accept the wise ideas it contains. It took my five year old nephew to tell me on the weekend that she had complained in front of him (to his mother, my sister in law) about the fact I chose to bottle feed my three month old rather than breastfeed him. Now, firstly, it wasn't by choice. I tried and failed. But to disrespect me behind my back? Children ARE impressionable and WILL repeat what they hear. Now, working up the courage to be a better woman than she evidently is, and ignore it.

    August 18, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermommyofone

    wow, you must be such a blessing to your children and in-laws! If I had such wisdom in my life, I wouldn't be blogging secretly...

    I hope to be as good of a grandma as you, someday!

    August 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGenevieve

    Genevieve: You give me far too much credit! I can't say I actually do all these things all the time. But I do try ... . I'm actually pretty bad about buying far too many THINGS. It's just so hard to not buy this and that when you just know the kid will LOVE them! :o)

    August 19, 2010 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    When I read this post my first thought was to add something about not playing favorites, but that tip seems to be unanimous in comments. The only other thing that comes to mind is to talk and treat our grandchildren in an age appropriate manner. I know we want our grand babies to stay babies, but its embarrassing them and us when we talk to them a at age 10 as though they are still 10 months.

    Great post by the way!

    August 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChrisy

    Right on, Lisa. I totally agree with every single one of your tips. I wrote a similar list for an anthology called "The Art of Grandparenting." The one that causes me the greatest challenge is: Get "on board" with the parents' program.
    Today's parents have so many new ideas about childbirth, delivery, and discipline to name just a few. Before my granddaughters were born, I'd never heard of attachment parenting, co-sleeping, teaching sign language to babies, or Waldorf education. Now I'm completely familiar with all of them and after seeing the positive impact they've had on my granddaughters, I am completely "on board!"
    What I've learned from all these new philosophies is to listen with an open mind and read up on things that I don't understand.

    September 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonne Davis

    How did you get so wise with only one grandchild? I think I learned all of this on #7! But the one I think we all need to pay more attention to is #8. Our children are the gateway to our grandchildren. It pays to keep the gate swinging freely! Besides, our children do so much that is truly worthy of praise. Being a parent in these times is the toughest job of all. We grandparents have it easy by comparison.

    September 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Adcox

    I love the rules and have followed the same ones myself. Even though we have custody of two of our grandsons, we still do not, ever put down their parents to them or in front of them no matter how bad they are. They are still their parents and in their own way they do love them, just couldn't take care of them. We try to make good memories to replace the bad ones they have in such short young lives.

    October 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

    How wise and considerate you are! First of all, you have such good character, and you will be a shining example to him, and a tremendous influence and support to him always. He's such a lucky little boy! It's great that you respect his parents and other grandparents so much. I think you thought of everything. I would add, "never declare yourself an expert because you have more experience, or know you are right., but be humble and have an open-mind.", actually you had that covered in #1. Great rules!

    April 8, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda A. Young

    Great article! I have been thinking about doing one like it myself. It's so important to honor parents wishes! Even if you don't agree with them.

    July 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

    All advice noted for the future.Sorry don't have any advice yet as I'm a new grandma but I do keep telling the parents what a good job they're doing.

    October 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Mackle

    You're the same kind of grandma I am! I agree with every word you've written here.

    January 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia M

    Great Advice From u.And these are wonderful rules that our children tactically breaks at their grandmas.nice share

    April 26, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjoseph

    You are a very wise and insightful woman to have written such a wonderful article like this. I thoroghly enjoyed reading it. I only wish my boys had grandparents like you. My Mother has passed, Dad is over 80 and is always happy to see my kids. I could say that I wish my in-laws would read this but they are so blind to their actions that nothing can snap them out of their way of thinking. If you don't go to their church, you're cut off almost completely. This breaks about every rule in the artcile.

    My in-laws are very active, well off, middle aged people who are huge enablers and hide it behind their born again Christian views. They have no time to spend with my family and their grandsons (your rule #9) unless we are making them dinner, have a gift for them or have 'stuff' that we're getting rid of so they can take it to give away. At that, they barely take their jackets off. Eat dinner, take the gift and out the door. There has to be a reason, not 'just because' they want to spend time with us. They never reciprocate and invite us over for dinner, nothing. We're done with it! We are ONLY invited for the obligated Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

    They're always busy despite always babysitting the other three grandchildren, making dinner for the other family members that we're never invited to. They even gave everyone in the family a car, except us. Our cars are on their last leg, we do all we can to get another year out of them. You know what they called and said they had for us. . a stainless steel trash can!!!! "And it's a good one" she said. Seriously? They have issues that go beyond this world. I wish I could say I was joking but I'm not.

    They babysat my boys only 2x when they were babies. That's it. The older my boys get, the less interest they have which I didn't think it was any interest to begin with (again, your rule #9). They cater to their other three adult children and their kids because they feel "needed". The adult siblings, to put it unpolitically correct, are lazy people. There is no love or unity with my husband and his siblings. His parents played favorites with all of them while growing up. There were four of them, two from a previous marriage and two from her current marriage whom all lived together. The two from her current marriage were and still are treated differently. These are memories that still linger with my husband who is going on 40.

    For the few couple times his parents wanted to see our boys, they would offer to take ONE out for ice-cream (your rule #5) while the other one would cry wanting to go. The in-laws said the boys have to realize they can't have everything the same! They're 5 & 7 yrs old for God's sake!! You can't have grandparents giving one ice-cream and telling the other, "Sorry, you don't get any this time". My boys were so excited to see them only to be told we are only taking one out. I told my husband he needs to put his foot down or I will or we both will because this is it for me. We told them that isn't how we raise our children (it obviously it didn't work for his parents).

    So, with all of the conversations to help enlighten them to their actions and our feelings and what can we do to help the relationship, it never, ever changed despite them promising. Sadly, the only way to bring happiness to our house was to adapt to not having them in our life. If they want to visit, fine. . otherwise, we live our lives as if they're strangers. I have to say things are so much more peaceful now without them around. We have such a wonderful group of friends of all ages and some of the older couples took on the grandparent role with our children. Blood isn't always thicker than water and I am thankful and blessed to know my children get to have that experience with others who see the beauty in life.

    I guess the point is, grandparents should never cut off an entire family unit because we don't go to their church and if they don't want to be a part of their grandchildren's lives, somebody out there would be honored to take that role.

    July 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMe

    Great list! Especially about showing up the other grandparents and playing favorites.

    After a long discussion about how many grandparents he had (4 + 2 greats, until recently), he wrote me a message.. "You are one of my favorite grandmas."

    Now, that's diplomatic.

    August 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Covin

    Finally! A Grandma with my values!! This list is awesome and one I live by. I've lived in my son's home for a year. My daughter-in-love homeschools my granddaughters and I'm around them more than most Gran's are, so it's extra important that I live by this list of don'ts for Grandmas.

    January 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBetty Jo

    Fantastic tips! I remember when Bug was born-I was so mentally weirded I had no idea what the rules were or how it was all going to play out. I had the hardest time zipping my It was my number uno your have no control! Still is a rule, but I am fortunate to have a DIL who believes family is high priority and in particular she feels that grandparents are extremely important. She asks my advice alot....second rule; be careful how you answer when asked for advice. Breaking the rules-both my son and DIL expect us to do so..really! I think they would be disappointed if we didnt..they seem to believe that is part of the grandparent experience-lucky for us! Though we do not make it a secret..Papa constantly spouts that there are no rules at our house. Not entirely true, especially in Nanas case as I am the babysitter while they Yet for all of our freedoms as grandparents, there is a line that I try very hard not to cross. Those lines change as the grandkids get older. One thing I've noticed lately. There a million places I want to take Bug and things I want to introduce him to, but if I get wind that Mama is thinking of the same things..I back off. I don't want to take the experience from them..that's important! Most the time we end up being invited to these outings, sometimes not. It is disappointing at times, but it is so important to let the parents have the experiencing of being parents..especially the firsts. Oh and here is something--never ever give or take the child to have his first haircut! I have seen this done numerous times. It's a small thing, but it's a first. We did not do this, but we ended up being invited to be there when they took him. So--Zip it, let them have the experiences. Those are my two pieces of advice.

    February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRhonda

    Grace, I doubt your kids' Grandparents purposely try to out-do you on Christmas gifting. See it as their pleasure in been able to give the gifts they believe ther grandkids will enjoy. Don't make it about yourself and how you feel but rather share in the child's pleasure in receiving the gift and Grandparents joy in giving. I am a Granny and I would resent having limitations forced on me when it comes to choosing gifts for my grandchildren. Like me, your parents or in-laws probably spent time on choosing ther gift so just teach your kids to say thank you instead of complaining because their gift is bigger or better than yours. Ann

    February 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGranny Ann

    Absolutely perfect! In particular, an appreciation about. Thank you for sharing!

    March 20, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMobilya tamiri

    Great advice. I wish I had read this before I jeopardized my relationship with my son and daughter in-law. I stepped in when my youngest grandson was born. We would keep him for a week sometimes 2 weeks at a time, to help our kids out. My DIL was finishing up with her degree and working full time and my my son was working full time. They appreciated the break from us. After about 2 and a half years of this we bonded greatly with our little grandson. However, in the process, we would allow him to adjust to our schedule when he stayed, because he did'nt have to get up early to go to daycare, we would allow him to sleep a little long in the morning or just let him wake up on his own. We would not keep to his 8:00pm bed time we would let him fall asleep in our arms while we rocked him then take him to bed with us. FYI we always let our babies sleep with us because the are grown, before you know it. We let him have 2 milkshakes one week (that was a big no no). Finally, because little man had grown so close to his mamaw, when we would take hime back home he would want mamaw to do for him instead of mommy. My daughter in-law did have trouble bonding with him when he was an infant due to his colic, and my son pretty much took over as well. Consequently, Our kids made requests, to stop milkshakes, keep to bed times and he would not be allowed to stay more than 3 days at a time, they think its to long away from his parents. FYI, they live 4 hours from us :/ Anyhoooo, wish I had respected their wishes to begin with. Now our family is disjointed, Papaw feels disrespected and unappreciated. Men are stubborn. I don't even know how to fix this. Just listen to your children. Respect their position as parents. They have their own ideas. Step back and let them learn how to parent.
    I guess I overcompensated, because I didn't have participating grandparents for my kids, and I want to do all I wished my parents would do :). If you are a soon to be grandparent, and have'nt had good examples, read up!

    July 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJwinstead

    Try to understand that young parents often are filled with insecurity regarding child rearing. Often it is because they are trying so hard to do so many things so well that they don't feel they are doing anything well.
    They do not know what we know, that child rearing is not like other things they have tackled. They don't have to control every moment and experience in their child's life. They don't know that A little dirt and a little mischief and risk might just help the child and A little over indulgence from grandparents can enrich a child's life. They are learning on the job and they get most of their input from like minded peers on social media. They will eventually (when they become grandparents) realize they should have enjoyed parenting more and been more generous to their own parents. Try not to take all of the push back personally but as part of their growth as parents.

    February 26, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma

    Never forget your grandchildren are interested in stories about their parents when they were young. Tell stories with your son or daughter as the hero, that your grandchild can learn from. I wrote out stories about my children that my grandchildren now love to read.

    February 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Covin

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