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When to Offer Advice (and When not to)

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 7 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Parenting Advice Colic Potty Training

Having successfully raised their own children, grandparents can offer a wealth of advice to the next generation about most matters of child rearing. Care must be taken, however, to be sure that advice is welcomed before giving it, since new parents (and even experienced ones) are not always open to unsolicited input from others. The trick is learning when to speak up and when to simply let things be.

Establishing Boundaries

Most grandparents can remember getting unwelcome advice when they were raising their own children, which should serve as a reminder to set boundaries when they are tempted to advise today's young parents. Parenting is usually a "learn as you go" undertaking, with everyone making their share of mistakes along the way. That being said, parents still retain the right make their own mistakes without uninvited interference from anyone, their own parents included.

The most workable solution for families hoping to live peacefully and without undue resentment is to establish a policy of openness and respect, right from the start. It is natural for grandparents to want to be helpful and many parents welcome and appreciate a certain amount of advice from their own parents when making decisions about the children. While there are certain changes in attitudes from generation to generation in the area of childrearing, some aspects of the job remain constant. Children flourish under the caring guidance of loving adults and they learn a great deal from watching their family members interact with one another. It is important to provide kids with positive role models, especially when it comes to matters of kindness and decency, so working out differences respectfully and offering each other a bit of leeway sets the stage for kids who will someday do the same.

Offering Encouragement, Rather than Advice

Parenting is a stressful job and most people who choose to have children feel that it is the most important undertaking of their lives. Grandparents who let their grown children know that they are available for advice, support, and babysitting so that parents can get a well deserved break when needed are more likely to be appreciated than those who dictate their opinions as though they were the only right answers. Most aspects of child rearing can be handled in a variety of appropriate ways and what is right for one family may not be best for another.

Unless parents are putting their children in harm's way, they are probably doing just fine. Hearing that they are doing a great job can really make a parent's day, especially since parenting is a demanding, but often under-appreciated enterprise.

Waiting to be Asked

If there is one thing that grandparents can do to minimise the chances that they will offend their grown kids by offering unsolicited (and likely unnecessary) advice, it would be to wait until they are asked. Once it has been made clear that grandparents are available and willing to offer advice, parents can feel comfortable in coming to them when they have questions, but will not be subjected to a constant stream of "here, do it my way" type commentary.

From feeding options to advice on getting a baby to sleep through the night, new parents often turn to their own parents for sound advice. While they may have read an abundance of baby books offering expert opinions on colic, potty training, child discipline, and whether or not to allow a child to use a pacifier, many parents feel most comfortable getting their advice from the most trusted source of all -- their own parents.

Showing respect for the parents' ability to make sound decisions regarding the care of their children can go a long way toward forging happy family relationships. In most cases, grandparents can rest assured that their kids will do a good job raising their own children -- after all, they had wonderful examples to follow!

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