The 10 Commandments of Grandparenting: Thou Shalt Follow Each, Grandma!

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I don’t want to come off as ungrateful.

I had a mom who was home from school when I got there, who checked my homework, and who tucked me in at night. She taught me how to bake and gave me an appreciation for everything that involved 15th to 17th century European court. We could spend hours on a snow day camped out on the couch, eating our freshly baked cookies and watching Jane Austen novels-turned-A&E specials. I understand how lucky this makes me.

She could also spend hours yelling at me about things that I, as a child, had no control over. Some days she would just completely ignore me, no matter how much I would beg her to acknowledge me. She could make me feel small, insignificant even.

I love her; she’s the only mom I’ll ever have and I made peace with that portion of my childhood long ago. I managed to develop a relationship with boundaries that worked well for me. And then I had children. No, that’s not true, then I gave birth to her grandchildren. The boundaries would have to be redrawn, but how? I’m torn. While I appreciate her help, and only encourage a strong relationship between my kids and all of their grandparents, the boundaries have been blown to bits and the troops seem to be storming the city.

If only I, like Moses, had the power to bring forth some grandparenting commandments:

The 10 Commandments of Grandparenting: Thou Shalt Follow Each, Grandma!
Credit: davidberkowitz.

Thou shalt not undermine a mother in front of her children. If I say it’s okay for my kids to eat rock candy for breakfast and then go ride their bikes in the street without helmets, guess what?? It’s OK! The kids have to know that what I say goes; it’s not negotiable. What you do with them at your house is your business, but at my house, my rules are the only rules. So what if Man eats dinner while jumping on his trampoline? He’s eating!

Thou shalt not answer when the children call for “mom.” Ever. I know, I know, it’s just a “natural reflex” because you have been a mom for so long. But it’s creepy; there should be no confusion amongst the kids over who is actually mom. And to be perfectly honest, it bugs the crap out of me. I get to call you “mom,” they get to call me “mom,” and some day in the far future, someone will get to call them “mom” or “dad.” I’m positive they discussed this in one of your home economics classes… or abnormal psych.

Thou shalt not fix your own parenting mistakes through your grandchildren. We do not live in Hollywood and this is not a Nora Ephron movie. You know the one where her life has come full circle, and she realizes that to fix the damaged relationship she caused with her daughter in the past, she has to fix her life of the present? Well, this isn’t that.

Thou shalt never say, “The kids are always well behaved for me.” Apparently when I’m not around:

  • Man never watches television, eats all of his meals, does everything he is told, goes to the bathroom on the potty.

  • Lady never cries, doesn’t need her diaper changed because she is potty trained, goes down for a nap without a peep, and never asks to be carried.

I’m not sure who these magical grandchildren are.

Though shalt not wear matching outfits to one’s grandchild. I’m just going to let the visuals speak for themselves on this one.

Matching?
My mother and my daughter, stuck in 1985 together.

She showed up at Man's third birthday party matching Lady.  As you can tell, Lady was thrilled that her style was copied.
She showed up at Man’s third birthday party matching Lady. As you can tell, Lady was thrilled.

Thou shalt not covet other grandparent time. There are times, like birthdays and holidays, where all of the grandparents will have to be in the same room. Let’s set a good example of playing nicely and sharing for the kiddies, ok? You know how you always say, “Well, they are my grandkids!” Well, their DNA entitles them to say the same exact thing.

Thou shalt not weigh in on the naming of the grandchildren. The following is an unacceptable scenario: After I make the mistake of sharing some of the names we were thinking of, you cannot come back with a written list of names that you find better. When the child is birthed and named, you will call it by that name, not a “nickname” of your choosing, i.e. one of the other names on your list.

Thou shalt not have a say in the overall number of grandchildren. We have had two children. We are done now, and that is the end of the conversation. You don’t get to remind me repeatedly that you’d prefer for me to have three. Honestly, when you say things like, “Don’t worry, I could be there to help you every day,” it actually makes me consider picking up the phone and making an appointment to have my tubes tied.

Thou shall only provide words of love and support. I know you think that all of your grandchildren are perfect, and in their own individual ways they are. When I tell you that Man is having a difficult time paying attention in the classroom and that we are going to go ahead and get him some help, the appropriate answer is not, “He always sits still for me.” It’s, “how can I help?”

Thou shalt never interrupt daddy time! When daddy gets home from work, it’s his turn with the kids, no questions asked.

Now let these commandments be heard by grandparents throughout the lands!

Do you have a commandment to add? Please share in the comments section below.

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