Grandparents letting their children solve some of their own everyday problems is sometimes better than stepping in to help.
Grandparents letting their children solve some of their own everyday problems is sometimes better than stepping in to help. iStock

Grandparents stepping back can help kids in parenting role

BEING a grandparent is about more than dishing out birthday cards filled with cash or sneakily choosing gifts based on their annoying noise factor.

Those things are important, and a bit of fun, but there's a serious side to the role that can be overshadowed by an overwhelming desire to help your child become the best parent they can be.

Grandparents are the ones who come running when people are sick, we are the ones who pay for a few "extras” or spoil the grandkids because we know their parents can't afford it. We are also the ones most likely to wash, clean and cook when they get swamped and the house is a mess, or pay the odd bill when they stress about living on one wage. And we more than likely listen as our kids complain about their kids and how hard/boring/exhausting their lives are. As if we didn't already know that.

Some grandparents do more than others and that's OK. I'm not going to let that influence me. None of us should be shamed for where we draw the line. It's not a one size fits all job and each of us should only do what we are willing to do.

But saying 'No' is not as easy as it should be. It can lead to harsh words, frustration and accusations that aren't true.

Or maybe we put our plans on hold or say 'Yes' to something when we really just want to read a book or have a sleep-in. Why do we do that?

Whether you are working full-time or retired, how much time you spend with your grandkids should be your choice.

We have a lot we can teach our grandkids and most of us look forward to those opportunities but we shouldn't lose sight of the lessons our own children need to learn.

We need to let them become parents and sometimes that can only happen if we take a step back at a time when they think they need us most. I'm not talking about extreme situations of illness or grief.

Rather, letting them solve some of their own everyday problems or sacrificing something they want to do might just be the best thing you can do for their relationship with their kids.

I try to remember that my kids learned some important life lessons when I took a step back and resisted the urge to save them.

Since I've been a Nanna I've sometimes said 'Yes' when I really felt like saying 'No' and been annoyed at myself afterwards. Maybe you have done that too. Now I try to remind myself that sometimes doing nothing (or very little) is the best way for them to grow into their role as parents.