How to prevent family drama and handle your role as a grandparent with style and grace
(Note to reader: This is Part Two of my 3-part holiday series called How to Thrive, Not Just Survive, the Holidays: Managing Family Mess and Stress During the Holiday Season. You can read Part One here.)
The holiday season can be a wonderful opportunity to be present and relax with your family. Maybe you’re looking forward to it.
Or maybe you’re dreading the overwhelm and family drama that has a tendency to come up, especially in families with three or more generations.
As someone who’s studied and mentored tens of thousands of people in transformational principles in order to achieve new heights of spiritual aliveness, wealth and authentic success…
AND as the mother of 4 adult biological children, 3 adult bonus children and 12 wonderful grandchildren, all of whom I love dearly, I can tell you from experience that it’s common to feel some tension and to have some objections about how your children are raising their own children.
So, whether you’re a brand-new grandparent, or your grandkids are already teenagers, today I’m going to give you seven tips to gracefully disagree with your adult children’s parenting decisions, prevent butting heads with your children and handle your role as a grandparent with flair.
And even if you aren’t a grandparent, and instead you’re the new parent in this equation trying your best, and your family is very opinionated about how you’re raising your children, this article is still for you. And who knows? Maybe after reading this, you’ll understand where your well-meaning, but perhaps misguided, parents are coming from!
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Whatever the case, apply the following 7 tips, and you will spend more time this holiday season enjoying this precious time with your family, strengthening your relationships with your children and grandchildren and creating new, happy memories.
Tip #1. Stay positive.
Are your children advocates of co-sleeping? Don’t want to circumcise their baby boy? Want to name their baby Peaches?
None of these are your problem. Yes, you may feel a tad embarrassed sharing your granddaughter’s new name with your friends, but you didn’t name her, right? Just raise your eyebrows and report it with a smile.
In addition, refrain from complaining. It’s so easy to look for what’s missing, what’s wrong and complain, whine or criticize. But this holiday season, let your highest and most repeated practice be this: Look for the good and then either praise it, leave the situation, accept it or find a solution.
In “The Power of Now,” Ekhart Tolle writes:
“See if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech or thought about a situation you find yourself in. What other people say or do, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. See if you can catch yourself complaining. For to complain is always non-acceptance of what is and it invariably carries an unconscious negative charge.”
You see, when you complain, you make yourself a victim. But know this: while you can’t necessarily control everything around you, you can control how you react to your surroundings!
Whenever you feel yourself begin to fall into a victim mindset, a great question to ask yourself is: “What is the hidden gold in this situation? What lessons can I learn from it that will help make this a better holiday for everyone?”
Tip #2: Be cautious about offering opinions or advice unless asked directly.
If you want a peaceful relationship with your adult children, keep in mind that no matter how many kids you raised or how they turned out, your adult child and his or her partner are now in charge of the childrearing.
So, rather than telling your kids what they should do or what YOU want them to do, focus on supporting them by asking them what they need. This will go a long way and they will appreciate it, especially down the road.
It can be hard to keep your lips zipped when you hear or see things you disagree with. But it’s important that you do, otherwise you will strain the relationship.
Tip #3: Avoid common guilt-traps and other shame-ridden phrases.
It’s understandable if you’re completely enamored with your grandkids. That said, if you’re not immediately asked to be a constant fixture in your grandchild’s life, especially in the first few months of it, that doesn’t mean it’s time to start laying on the “you never know how many years I have left” lines.
Here are a few other examples of phrases to avoid, especially as your grandchildren get older:
- “Well, if you just did _______ like your older brother, things would work out so much better for you.”
- “I never did that with you; why are you doing that?”
- “I got a lecture from that spouse of yours the last time I did this, and I really don’t want that kind of treatment in my own home – I raised you better than that.”
Parenting can be challenging enough as it is, and guilt-tripping your children is only going to make you non-existent in their lives.
Tip #4: Let go of expectations.
While I highly encourage you to visualize what you’d love, having expectations about what you want the holidays to look like can be a recipe for disappointment. Instead, focus on spending quality time and/or really getting to know your grandchildren. Become interested in what your grandchildren think, feel and are interested in.
The same can be said for the parents – your children. Ask them about their lives, how they’re doing, what they’re working on. They will appreciate your curiosity.
And if your new grandbaby screams when passed to you, RELAX and keep trying. He or she may just need time to get comfortable with someone other than his or her parents.
Tip #5: Make sure the advice you give is helpful.
Beware of being invasive. The new parents could consider your unsolicited advice meddlesome, regardless of how helpful think it is.
This is tricky, because when your adult child brings up a challenge they’re facing, you might think he/she is looking for a solution. However, that might not be the case. Unless they specifically ask for suggestions, assume that they want you to listen, acknowledge their feelings and be understanding. After you’ve fully listened, if you want to make a suggestion, ask permission.
For example: “Would you be open to a suggestion or would you prefer that I just keep listening?”
When it comes to advice, less is more. A word of experience from you can speak volumes to one who is listening. Rather a pound, try an ounce.
TIP #6: Focus on being grateful.
Life certainly has its challenges, but it has its lovely parts too. Often, people are more aware of the difficult experiences and overlook the happy ones. You can improve your overall happiness by savoring those sweet moments simply by being aware of them.
This awareness is called being grateful, and being grateful shakes off the chains of your habitual thoughts and vividly connects you to your senses. It’s about being present in the moment without needing to think about it or analyze it.
When you become aware of a sweet moment, you can savor the experience and truly enjoy it – even if it’s not a super thrilling experience, it’s still worthy of being savored. And when you enjoy those little moments of smiles, laughter, hugs or cuddles, then you can fill up your heart with appreciation and joy, drop by drop.
In addition, when you infuse yourself with gratitude, you will affect others. In fact, in my opinion, one of the best gifts you can give your grandchild isn’t something physical to wrap up and offer as a present. Rather, you can help to instill a strong sense of gratitude in your grandchild by example – with your words and actions, which can help the child see how much good is in his or her own life.
TIP #7: Keep calm and celebrate.
As you prepare to bring your best self to this holiday season, an important step to consider is your state of mind in the moment. If your mind is full of fear, nerves, anxiety, restriction and/or concern, then your actions are going to be very different than if you’re in a state of confidence, love and/or optimism.
The key state of mind that I recommend you get into before joining your family is what I call “calm confidence.” You can put yourself into a state of calm confidence by focusing on the vision of how your holiday would look if everything worked out.
That said, a great question to ask yourself is: If I had the holiday of my dreams, what would it look like?
Think about the visit you would love to have.
What would you do? What would the interactions with your children and grandchildren be like?
When you’re in a state of calm confidence, you won’t be tempted to do something that isn’t in the highest and best interest of your family. You won’t waste time worrying about what to do, what NOT to do or how you or someone else feels.
Instead, you’ll choose to celebrate the fact that you’re with your family and remind yourself that you’ll never get this time back – not in eternity.
Let’s recap the 7 ways to gracefully disagree with your child’s parenting decisions
For grandparents, holidays can provide precious time with family, but they also come with challenges, especially if you disagree with your child’s parenting decisions. If this sounds familiar, and you still want to actually enjoy the holiday season, here are 7 things to keep in mind:
- Stay positive.
- Be cautious about offering opinions or advice unless asked directly.
- Avoid common guilt-traps and other shame-ridden phrases.
- Let go of expectations.
- Make sure the advice you give is helpful.
- Focus on being grateful.
- Keep calm and celebrate.
There’s a wonderful, special role that grandparents get to play within the family, and the holidays are the perfect opportunity for them to step into this role while contributing to the magic and wonder of the season.
May your holiday be wondrous and magical this year and always.
Next week, as part of my 3-part holiday series, you’ll be able to read Part Three: How to Have Heated Dinner Discussions Without Burning the House Down. So stay tuned!
Would you love another valuable tool to help amplify your happiness this holiday season?
More and more people are becoming aware that the vibrational frequency of gratitude is harmonious with happiness and abundance.
When you feel truly grateful for what’s already in your life, you become a powerful beacon for everything that’s harmonious with your vision of a life you love living.
Practice gratitude this holiday season, and you’ll be surprised just how quickly more and more things you can be grateful for begin showing up in your life… including a healthy, loving family, more financial prosperity, career and business opportunities, positively-charged people and more!
And to help you shift yourself into a frequency of gratitude for the holidays, I have a free gift for you!