My friend, Shanna frequently complains about her relationship with her daughter. The problem: her daughter is envious of Shanna’s relationship with her eight-year old granddaughter, Natalie. Who wouldn’t be? Shanna is the only grandmother in Natalie’s life and bonded with her from the moment she was born. She dotes on her granddaughter, taking her to plays, on shopping trips and weekend outings. When Shanna brings Natalie home and reports that she was an angel, Shanna can see the resentment in her daughter’s body language.
My daughter often tells me how hard it is to watch me having so much fun with my granddaughters when she has to be The Enforcer all the time. I’ll be the first to admit that the best part of being a grandma is being a total goofball with my granddaughters. I’ve always been playful. In my high school senior poll I was voted “Class Cut-Up.” And there is nothing sweeter to my ears than to hear my granddaughters laugh. So my daughter often has to remind me not to “amp up the girls before their bedtime.” And I try my hardest to respect her request.
I can empathize with my daughter and Shanna’s daughter. We Super Grams “just wanna have fun” with our grandkids. We want to be The Entertainers not The Disciplinarians. Isn’t this the privilege we’ve earned as grandmothers? We’ve already done our job parenting the parents. Now we get to be the FunMeisters because we’re not responsible for raising our grandchildren.
So what’s a grandma to do? Well, we should start by following the parents’ rules. Assure them we understand and respect their decisions. By showing them we do, we’ll be guaranteed more face time with our grandkids. Then when our daughters or daughters-in-law give us “that look” like we’re getting on their nerves because we’re having too much fun, we should give them a hug and say: “I know you have the tougher job. Thank you for letting me have so much fun. When you get your turn as a grandma, you’ll understand what I’m talking about!”