Some Questions for Grandparents About Parenting

Grandparents, Betty and Ernie, are exhausted as they baby-sit, chauffeur, and cook for their granddaughter at the request of their daughter, who became a parent at the age of 45. They say nothing of their exhaustion because they so much want to help. Linda is bewildered and hurt when her parents finally declare they have a life of their own and are no longer available to baby-sit on a regular basis for their new grandson.

Randy doesn’t tell his parents when their granddaughter is ill even though he and Myra could use their help, because he doesn’t want to deal with their worrying.

Although people often talk about how much easier it is to be a grandparent than a parent — you can spoil the child, but not have ongoing responsibility for her — it is often difficult to find a role that works. Grandparents who assume the authority they were used to as parents may be viewed as trying to take over. Grandparents who wait to see what is wanted, can be seen as uninvolved.

What can help? Grandparents may want to try asking new parents what they would like, what they may need, making suggestions and attending to how they are received, and always remembering that your children will probably not do things as you did them.


  1. What do you most hope for in your relationship with your grandchild?
  2. What has happened so far that contributes to that goal?
  3. In establishing this relationship what have been the effects on your relationship with your child and his or her partner (if they have one)? Are these effects what you intended?
  4. How might you get what you want with both your children and grandchildren?
  5. What do you appreciate in your child as a parent? Does he or she know that?

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