One of my greatest challenges as a nanny granny has been that of seeing that fine line between GP caregiver and parent. After all, I do/have done many things with my DGC (dear grandchildren) that a parent does. I have often fed, dressed/helped dress and, depending on the schedule, even bathed my little granddolls. And yes, sometimes, when they were infants, I was the one "walking the floor" at night with a crying baby (or, at least, waching them in the baby swing:)). I definitely have not been just a GM who comes and goes in a few hours.
I also have more influence on them, IMO, than I might have, otherwise. In fact, no doubt, they have each picked up certain phrases, habits, even, maybe quirks of mine. (Their mom/ my YDD - younger dear daughter - isn't crazy about this but, I'm afraid, it can't be helped.) Also, as I mentioned in my last entry, I've had an impact on their bond as brother-and-sister (this one YDD appreciates). And as I've said, too, she and I both agree that I'm around them enough that I need to discipline them just as she would.
It's hard, sometimes, though, knowing when to step back. Or rather, I know to step back when YDD is present but, now and then, it's just a knee-jerk reaction for me to say, "No, you can't have another cookie" or "Do you need a time out?" And, to be honest, YDD didn't make it much easier, early on. For a long time, she vascillated between wanting me to take a backseat when if she was there ("Mom, I'll handle it!") and wanting me to deal if she were tired, I guess ("Mom, dooo something!"), even just as I was (supposed to be) leaving! There were periods where she leaned more in one direction and periods where she leaned more in the other.... sigh...
Finally, I called it to her attention. I told her that I thought she should do the disciplining if we both happened to be there but if she preferred I handle it, she needed to let me know. (Not that my DGC are so difficult! Mostly, they're very well-behaved, largely I'm sure b/c YDD is, in fact, very good at discipline.) Actually, she found she was quite conflicted about this and it took her a few days to give me an answer. But in the end, she decided that she would deal with any behavior issues, under those circumstances. Then it was just a matter of my having to remember she made that decision and pull back when necessary - still not always easy but better when I knew her POV.
Speaking of decisions - The one thing I don't get to do as a nanny granny is make any of the major ones. I may make some small, daily choices when YDD isn't there, such as whether to offer the DGC juice or milk, etc. (no worries, I always work w/in YDD's rules, etc.). But the big decisions are all hers (and the dads when either one is invovled). I must admit, though, that being so close to the picture often makes it hard not to weigh in. Usually, I like YDD's choices, but, now and then I disgree. And it has sometimes, been hard not to feel as if I'm "supposed to say something," even if I'm not. I knew how much I resented it when my own DM (dear mom) or MIL did that, yet, here I was, feeling as if in my case, it was "different."
Thank goodness for GP.com and this Community section! Here I came to realize that, if anything, as a GP caregiver, I need to watch the boundaries even more carefully! There were just too many opportunities for overstepping them, inadvertently disrespecting YDD as a parent and causing friction between us! Here, too, I learned how to tell the difference between what really was my concern and what was not. If YDD made a decision, for example, that meant I would have to give more of my time, that made it my issue, too, and I had a right to say something about it. But if she chose to, say, use the nursery school bus when I thought her child should be driven to school, that was not my concern, even though I might feel concerned about it. (Actually, I now think it's great but that's besides the point.) This understanding has probably saved us from a number of arguments and tensions. It's one of the main reasons why I love this site!