Today I had an opportunity to explain why I and thousands of other grandparents lavish our grandchildren with love, but the words wouldn’t come to me until I was awakened by an alarm in the middle of the night and the words came. I couldn’t go back to sleep so now I will explain to all the young parents why grandparents appear to be more loose and forgiving with our grandchildren.
We look back at our parenting and see many of the things we did wrong. We frequently ask ourselves “if only” I had done something else… would my children have turned out differently. “If only I had put my children before my career” “If only, I had dedicated more time”. We are full of “if onlys”. We also have the benefit of watching how our peers raised their children, and we learn from what we have read and many other influencers.
By the time we become grandparents, we have a much better sense of how to raise a child and our grandchildren get the benefit of that. These are some of the things we know
- our children are incredibly fragile
- everything we do to them shapes them
- being a parent is not a license to deliberately inflict physical or emotional pain
- a parent who cannot correct their child without yelling is out of control
- a parent who cannot correct their child without hitting is out of control
- no one, especially a parent, has the right to deliberately harm a child
- emotional pain is equally as bad as physical pain… but the marks are less visible
- when we tell our children they are fat, they are dumb, they will never be able to do better, they are too tall, too skinny, too short… we inflict pain, and we create that belief in them.
- kids are quick learners. if a parent smacks Justin because he hit James… then we are sending mixed messages
- kids understand emotions. If you tell Susan that teasing Karen hurts her feelings, then Susan understands. If you tell Tony that tripping Larry at school embarrasses and humiliates Larry, then Tony understands.
- the next time you catch yourself screaming, yelling, or smacking your child… just STOP… take a breath… apologize for hurting them… explain that no one, even you, has the right to deliberately hurt them… then explain why he/she should not have done X.
- When a parent’s response is to be out of control than the parent is teaching their child to be out of control.
Grandparents have learned that the best corrective tool is lots of love and understanding.
The next time you yell/smack/correct/punish your child, ask yourself if you could get the same result by talking and/or restricting activities.
“The key is to maintain a positive, loving emotional environment while setting consistent rules and limits.”
— from The Children’s Hospital Guide to Your Child’s Health and Development, Children’s Hospital Boston