I love being a grandparent! Our youngest daughter and her family live about seven hours away from us, so it takes more than just a quick call and a drive across town to see them. I try to visit every couple months and end up spending a few days with them. Our grand baby is now walking, or more accurately, running around the house at 15 months. She's a very active, verbal little girl who seems to always want new and different things to explore. Nana is happy to accommodate!
On my last visit, my daughter Kellie said, "Mom, I need to talk to you about something."
"Sure honey, what is it?" I asked.
"Well, you know we love you to spend time with us, and Averie loves it when you're here" she said. "But, after you left last time, it took me a week to get Averie back to the place where she didn't want constant attention. Mom, I want you to sit and play with her because I know that's part of being a Nana, but I don't want you to do it all the time. After you left last time, she whined whenever I left the room. She had to re-learn how to play by herself without my undivided attention."
"Oh honey, I understand. I'll try my best to be more balanced" I said reassuringly.
"Also, Mom, don't pick up Averie when she's whiny. We're trying not to reinforce that. We just try to pat her or verbally reassure her, but not to pick her up when she whines."
I knew this was reasonable and even warranted, but all I could see in my mind's eye was my sweet little grand daughter with arms lifted looking longingly into my eyes saying "Please Nana, pick me up!" I realized in that moment that I'd come face to face with my limits. I am not the parent, I am the grand parent. And although there are great benefits to being a grand parent who can lavish love, patience, undivided attention, toys, kisses, tickles, and make-believe play, I have limits as defined by her parents. I also have a choice to honor those limits or to ignore them.
What do your adult children want you to know? They want you to know they love and appreciate all you do for them and their children, but they also want you to respect their decisions when it comes to the welfare of their children, your grandchildren.*
*excludes any parental practices that are legally defined as abusive