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RecLucy

Old Style Grandparenting in a New Style World

35 posts in this topic

Hello everyone,  Things are looking up in my relationship with my DS and DDIL.  Now I am working on my grandparenting issues.  It has been 28 years since my youngest child turned 18, and the world has really changed since I was an active parent.  I find that I love my grandchildren (aged 8 and 11.5) but I have a hard time relating to them.  I was raised in a "children are to be seen but not heard, etc... " era, and was taught to be on my best behavior around adults.  I raised my kids that way, but it seems that is not the way things are done today.  How do I put aside the basic 1950's attitude and learn to relate today?  I guess I don't have the grandma gene, because I really get frustrated at "age appropriate" behavior.

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Posted (edited)

Interesting question, Lucy!

Though  I was a child in the 1950s, I don't recall my parents having a "children are to be seen but not heard" attitude. Manners were important, but we were allowed to speak our minds, as long as we didn't interrupt or say anything rude, etc. DH and I were pretty much the same w/ our kids and so is YDD. Sometimes YDD has some different ideas about what's "rude" than I do, but that's her call, of course. If something one of my DGC says offends me, personally, I'll say so (gently - b/c they usually don't realize it and it doesn't happen often), but that's all. I think if we GPs can keep in mind that our GC's behavior is not our responsibility, it can help us let go of any frustrations we might have over it.

ETA: If my grands are in my care and happen to offend someone, I'll step in, of course. But when YDD is there, I leave it to her.

But you didn't just mention what children say - you spoke of " 'age appropriate' behavior" in general. So I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to. Can you clarify?

Edited by RoseRed135
to remove comments no longer relevant since the thread was relocated
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Isn't Old-style grandparenting cultural to some degree?  Different cultures expect different things from the children?

In my FOO, there are six siblings within a 14 year age range.  One set of cousins lived two blocks away and they were of similar ages.  We were told to go outside and play or go to the den. 

I have never expected my grands to be seen and not heard as a general rule, but their parents do sometimes remind them to not interrupt an adult conversation.

In todays world of hand held devices, it seems easy for children to be entertained quietly for short periods of time for some adult conversation.

BUT...aren't grandparenting styles similar to parenting styles ??? Different strokes for different folks?  And shouldn't the grandparent "mimic" the parent in their chosen style of parenting to some degree?

My DIL might set quietly for a couple of hours while I play with the kiddos and then call me when I get home to visit with me.

 

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It sounds as though you realize your expectations don't fit the situation, which is awesome. (The realization part, that is.)

All you can do is learn to accept what is, and that will take time.

I've never been a seen, not heard person, so I have no idea how to adjust that mindset.

I'd suggest that you don't babysit, and try to visit more in 'activity' centred siuations: zoo, science centre, park, etc, where the kids can run and play and be loud, but it's not contained indoors. That way, you're also set an 'end time' as well, so it's not hours on end in a situation that you're not comfortable in.

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I was raised to be seen and not heard and it wasn't too much of a problem because I am a pretty introverted person.  However, I am not raising my children that way.  I want them to be able to speak up for themselves and have confidence.  

I would suggest that if you have problems with kids acting in an age appropriate way you limit the amount of time you spend interacting with them.  Try shorter visits and try to space them out more so that you can get breaks.  I would also suggest trying to differentiate between visits that are to spend time with and bond with your grandkids versus visits to catch up with your adult children.  If are visiting to catch up with your adult child(ren) then schedule a kid-free dinner or something else where you can talk with them without kids interrupting.  Don't expect to go to your adult child's house and catch up with him/her without the grandkids acting like kids and interrupting.  If you are visiting to spend time with the grandkids then do something kid-centric with them.  Maybe take them to the zoo or a kid-friendly movie.  If you do a movie then you can get lunch with them first and then have a little downtime while the movie is playing.  I like going to cheapie $1 movies with my kids in the summer because it gets me 90 minutes of not having to referee them while sitting in an air-conditioned room.  (We swing by the market to get goodies to sneak into the theater beforehand.)  

I am also curious as to the type of kid-appropriate behavior that you find so bothersome.  If you could tell us more about the behavior we might be able to give more specific suggestions.  

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19 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

But you didn't just mention what children say - you spoke of " 'age appropriate' behavior" in general. So I'm not exactly sure what you're referring to. Can you clarify?

When children display  behaviors (ie:  temper tantrums, yelling at parents/adults, running and jumping on furniture wrestling, rough housing indoors, cursing, ignoring when they are spoken to, etc.)  I keep hearing adults say that it is "age appropriate" behavior.  A phrase that I interpret as "it's not right, but what can I do".  

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19 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

I think if we GPs can keep in mind that our GC's behavior is not our responsibility, it can help us let go of any frustrations we might have over it.

Thank you, good idea, I will work on it.

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18 hours ago, SueSTx said:

BUT...aren't grandparenting styles similar to parenting styles ??? Different strokes for different folks?  And shouldn't the grandparent "mimic" the parent in their chosen style of parenting to some degree?

I do my best to mimic the parenting style of my DS/DIL, but in my heart I feel that my grandchildren are missing out on some valuable life lessons.  "Sometimes we are so busy giving our kids the things we didn't have, we neglect to give them the things they did".  Yes, I know it is not my responsibility, or even my right to enforce my standards on anyone but me, 

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7 hours ago, ImpishMom said:

I'd suggest that you don't babysit, and try to visit more in 'activity' centred siuations: zoo, science centre, park, etc, where the kids can run and play and be loud, but it's not contained indoors. That way, you're also set an 'end time' as well, so it's not hours on end in a situation that you're not comfortable in.

good idea

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7 hours ago, britomart said:

I would suggest that if you have problems with kids acting in an age appropriate way you limit the amount of time you spend interacting with them.  Try shorter visits and try to space them out more so that you can get breaks.  I would also suggest trying to differentiate between visits that are to spend time with and bond with your grandkids versus visits to catch up with your adult children.  If are visiting to catch up with your adult child(ren) then schedule a kid-free dinner or something else where you can talk with them without kids interrupting.  Don't expect to go to your adult child's house and catch up with him/her without the grandkids acting like kids and interrupting.  If you are visiting to spend time with the grandkids then do something kid-centric with them.  Maybe take them to the zoo or a kid-friendly movie.  If you do a movie then you can get lunch with them first and then have a little downtime while the movie is playing.  I like going to cheapie $1 movies with my kids in the summer because it gets me 90 minutes of not having to referee them while sitting in an air-conditioned room.  (We swing by the market to get goodies to sneak into the theater beforehand.)  

I guess I have been trying to use my visits to catch up with my Adult Son and DIL while my dear grandchildren are around.  Due to their hectic lives, that is the only time I see them, maybe I need to try to arrange more one on one time with each adult so that I can welcome grandkids interaction when they are there.

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Thank you everyone for the input.  I guess I phrased my intro wrong (sorry, will try to do better in the future).

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The only time the GK's behavior is my business is in my house....whether the parents are there are not. I don't do brats....my kids know that, the GK know that, so there is very little rough housing and no one jumps on my furniture, ever....even though I know my youngest GB (age 4) jumps on the furniture at his mom's house. When it's one on one, I have no problems with any of my 9 GK....we're busy with whatever (sometimes I lead, sometimes the kid leads). 

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1 hour ago, RecLucy said:

When children display  behaviors (ie:  temper tantrums, yelling at parents/adults, running and jumping on furniture wrestling, rough housing indoors, cursing, ignoring when they are spoken to, etc.)  I keep hearing adults say that it is "age appropriate" behavior.  A phrase that I interpret as "it's not right, but what can I do".  

I would disagree about the interpretation of the phrase.

When I've used the term, "age appropriate behaviour" it's been in response to someone seeming to expect a child to behave in a way that is developmentally beyond them.

For example, a toddler having a meltdown. When someone gets all snotty and critical b/c a toddler has a meltdown, I side eye them, b/c it IS age appropriate behaviour, and something a kid needs to learn not to do, and how to better self regulate. Or making disgusted faces when a 2 yo uses their hands more than their cultery when eating. Some folks do forget that there are stages of development and learning, and seem to get impatient with kids who aren't 'behaving' the way they think they ought to.

An 8 and 11 yo, I would expect to have a reasonable handle on themselves, to be able to use decent manners. I wouldn't expect that visiting with adults would be their idea of a good time, and could see boredom leading to some irritable moods, and probable trouble making, if the visit is long, or they have nowhere to go and do their own thing. Bored kids will find distractions, and that's usually not a great thing, ime. I can remember how awful visits to my Nan's were, b/c all we were alllowed to do was sit quietly on the floor while the adults talked. For hours. No toys, no books, no television, just sit still and be quiet. I remember getting in trouble for reading a book, b/c I was 'being rude' and 'not visiting'. Well, nobody ever talked to us kids on these visits, so what did it matter?! Probably why I don't follow the seen and not heard idea with my kids. Who wants to be ignored? Kids are people, they have feelings, and the 'seen not heard' thing has always felt disrespectful and insulting to me.

I can say that I don't allow cursing from my kids, and no way in Hades do my kids think yelling at my husband or I is acceptable behaviour. I'm still working on getting the 4 and 5 yo to quit jumping on the freaking couches, though. They all rough house with their dad, but he starts it. And ignoring seems to be a standard kid thing, esp when they're being asked to do chores. They don't get away with it, but they still try. 

 

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30 minutes ago, ImpishMom said:

I would disagree about the interpretation of the phrase

You and I seem to be pretty much in agreement that there are certain behaviors acceptable at certain ages, but when a 6 year old behaves like they are 2, that is NOT age appropriate. I am just discussing what I feel, not what I do. I do not act on behaviors that I consider inappropriate (verbally or physically) unless there is a safety factor involved and a parent is not around.

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 This thread has been moved to Grandparents Unplugged to make it easier to respond to RecLucy's concerns more specifically and give her the advice she's seeking. .

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2 hours ago, RecLucy said:

Thank you everyone for the input.  I guess I phrased my intro wrong (sorry, will try to do better in the future).

No worries. The thread has been moved to a more appropriate forum (see my post above). A link to the new location has been left in the debate group.

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3 hours ago, RecLucy said:

When children display  behaviors (ie:  temper tantrums, yelling at parents/adults, running and jumping on furniture wrestling, rough housing indoors, cursing, ignoring when they are spoken to, etc.)  I keep hearing adults say that it is "age appropriate" behavior.  A phrase that I interpret as "it's not right, but what can I do".  

Like Imp, I interpret this phrase differently. I hear it as saying, "It's normal - it doesn't make them bad kids."

However, that doesn't mean it should be allowed/that there shouldn't be consequences for the behavior. Is that the problem? Are DS and DIL permitting behaviors you wouldn't just b/c they find it "age appropriate?"

3 hours ago, RecLucy said:

Thank you, good idea, I will work on it.

Good. But I imagine it can be hard when kids are yelling or jumping all over the furniture, etc. I agree w/ Mame that a lot has to do w/ whether they're in your house or theirs. You certainly have a right, for example, to insist that there is no jumping on your furniture. You needn't be concerned about their family's things.

Generally though, I wouldn't accept a child's yelling at me, no matter where we are. IMO, you have a right to let the kids know if you don't like the way they're treating you, even if their parents think it's "ok" to treat adults that way.

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4 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

However, that doesn't mean it should be allowed/that there shouldn't be consequences for the behavior. Is that the problem? Are DS and DIL permitting behaviors you wouldn't just b/c they find it "age appropriate?"

Exactly, and it is not my place to address it, but it is frustrating to me.

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4 hours ago, RoseRed135 said:

Generally though, I wouldn't accept a child's yelling at me, no matter where we are. IMO, you have a right to let the kids know if you don't like the way they're treating you, even if their parents think it's "ok" to treat adults that way.

It happened when I was babysitting, and I felt powerless because I have not been given authority to reprimand the kids in any way... one time I did... ONCE... and I was called down, so am reluctant to do it again.  It wasn't a life or death situation, so I just let it slide.

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If I was not allowed to reprimand harmful behaviors, I would refuse to babysit.

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10 hours ago, SueSTx said:

If I was not allowed to reprimand harmful behaviors, I would refuse to babysit.

I don't think I would babysit either if I weren't allowed to reprimand or in some way object to a child's yelling at or being rude to me. But I know it can be hard to refuse to watch your (general GP) grands if it's a good way to get to spend time w/ them, etc.

But @RecLucy - Did the parents object to your reprimanding the kids, period? Or was it about how you did it, perhaps (understandably) raising your voice or something like that? Have you tried asking them if there are any ways of checking this behavior that they would find acceptable?

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11 hours ago, SueSTx said:

If I was not allowed to reprimand harmful behaviors, I would refuse to babysit.

This 100%

the real question you need to discover is if they don't want you to reprimand at all or if they just didn't like that particular time you reprimanded for some reason that you don't yet understand.

in response to behavior that you don't like... I think you have received great advice about the difference of whose house you are at. What is appropriate on my furniture may not be appropriate on grandma's furniture.

yelling at someone is rarely a good technique for communicating and a great response is to remain calm and simple say that you can talk with them when they calm down. However this only works if the child is old enough to think rationally. Again age appropriate is all about the developmental stage of the child.

I teach my kids time place appropriateness. For example, We believe swear words are just words. My teen should use the best word for the occasion to communicate successfully. If her goal is to shock and alienate a teacher or grandparent she should swear. If her goal is to express frustration or pain or to add a stronger emotion to a sentence with a teacher we suggest screaming in pain, adding different colorful adjectives etc. but casually with friends, not to excess teen is allowed to swear.

 

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Lucy, I think most parents can become uncomfortable when others correct their children even when they trust/permit others to do so- 

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lots of food for thought here.  I'm letting it sink in.

 

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You have my sympathy, RecLucy. I've had to watch a 6-year-old nephew eat mashed potatoes with his hands and an 11-year-old niece was crawling around people's legs on the floor under the table at a family dinner. No one batted an eye, and it was excruciating.

Well.....I take that back. The niece brushed up against her PGM's legs and the PGM said, "Oh, it's Niece. I thought it was the dog." And I said brightly with a smile, "Nope! It's niece! She's crawling around under the table! (Ironic grin.)" Niece then popped out sheepishly from under the table. Not a word from her mother the entire time. Just a confused look.

And now that I think about it, nephew was later enrolled in etiquette classes. I hope they stuck. Oh wait, no they didn't, he was using two spareribs as walrus tusks at a later family dinner at a restaurant. Never mind.

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