Grandparents.com is proud to kick off 2012 with big news: We've published our first book!
The Modern Grandparent's Handbook: The Ultimate Guide to the New Rules of Grandparenting, written by our Senior Editor, Dr. Georgia Witkin, has been published by New American Library, and it's for sale right now in the brand-new Grandparents.com Bookstore for just $10.87, almost 30 percent lower than the full $15 price. And remember, Grandparents.com Benefits Club members always get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.
Here's an excerpt from Georgia's chapter on major grandparent guilt trips:
There is a Welsh saying: "Perfect love does not come along until the first grandchild." Most grandparents say it's absolutely true. Unfortunately, the thing that comes along right behind it is... guilt.
That's because we're human. We're not perfect, yet we want to be — even more so for our grandchildren. But we can't be perfect — so don't even try. The Number One thing to keep in mind is that it's our turn to enjoy the fun; it's our turn to skip the midnight feedings and toilet training; and it's our turn to kiss and hug and laugh and leave. So if you sometimes feel guilty about certain aspects of grandparenting, don't give in and don't give up. You can counteract it. Here's what you need to know:
Guilt Trip 1: You Play Favorites
A British study recently found that one in six mothers admit that they have a favorite child, and close to 60 percent of our grandparents say they have a favorite grandchild — although they'll never admit to it!
[bluebox dilemma]Sometimes the favorite is the very first grandchild. Sometimes it's the only girl or the only boy. Sometimes the favorite is the one whose personality is most similar to the your own. Sometimes the favorite is the one who's least similar to you.
So don't feel guilty. Feeling like you have a favorite doesn't make you a bad grandparent — it makes you human. Besides, you may recognize that one is funnier, one is more athletic, one is more easygoing, and so forth, but — and this is critical — you have to let them know that you love them all equally. And that's the message for your children or grandchildren if they are accusing you of having a favorite... that they are all favorites in different ways! Let them know how they're each special to you. Children love to feel special, and making them feel special in different ways is better than pretending that they are all special in the same way. They aren't. And they know it.
At the same time, remember that seemingly innocent actions may make it seem like you're playing favorites. Here are some situations to watch for:
If you had more than one child or have more than one grandchild, you know very well that all kids are different. Some are huggy-kissy and some are more standoffish. Some are sunny and others are shy. If your relationship with your grandchild isn't firing on all cylinders every minute, that's normal. And if another relationship is going great guns, don't feel guilty. Do something about it. Spend some one-on-one time with each grandchild, and praise the one you're with. After all, you know each one has unique and delightful qualities worth praising.
Guilt Trip 2: You Get Bored
Grandparents.com asked readers: Are your grandchildren ever boring?
Sometimes, but I don't care: 42%
No, they're endlessly fascinating every second: 41%
Yes, but don't tell them I said so: 16%
You miss them like crazy when they're not around, but after a full day together, you can't wait to check your e-mail, read the paper, or talk to a grown-up. It doesn't mean you don't love them, but you can only push a swing for so long before it gets tedious. If you're totally honest, you'll have to admit this happens sometimes. After you've read the same story 16 times in a row, it does tend to lose a little of the magic.
But don't feel guilty about it. Instead, try these tips:
Guilt Trip 3: You Love Them Too Much
You think about your grandkids endlessly. You tell everybody you meet — including cashiers and cabdrivers — how cute it is when they suck spaghetti through their missing teeth. You post pictures of them all over your house, your office, and your Facebook page. (Well, who doesn't?) You just can't spend enough time with them.
Are you abnormal? Is it unhealthy? Should you be worried?
You love your grandkids. That's great! They're lucky to have someone so loving in their lives. And you're lucky to have people in your life that give you so much joy. On the other hand, watch out for these pitfalls:
If you should find your focus getting out of whack, follow these three rules:
Guilt Trip 4: You Don't Live Close Enough
Some grandparents have to move to be close to their grandchildren because they are needed by their adult child — to help with child care, special needs, divorce transitions, or financial emergencies. But most grandparents have a choice. They also have an established life where they live, with work, friends, and other children and grandchildren nearby. Besides, it's often your children who have moved away from you, not the reverse. Having your grandchildren far away is hard, but giving up the life you know and love can be hard too.
If you are considering moving to be nearer to your grandchildren, consider these factors:
And consider the upside of being a long-distance grandparent:
Guilt Trip 5: You're Not Perfect
You know this, right? It's obvious. But you still feel guilty about every little thing you do "wrong" anyway. Whether you're too strict or too lax, overprotective or too lenient, you may think you're the only one out there struggling. You're wrong — you are not alone!
Just to prove it to you, here are 5 mistakes even good grandparents make:
We all make these mistakes, and many others. But that does not mean we have to punish ourselves, or think that everyone else is grandparenting so much better. They're not! Some moments are memorable, some are forgettable, but we're all on this journey together.
Read an excerpt from Georgia Witkin's introduction to The Modern Grandparent's Handbook, and check out other insights from the author here on Grandparents.com:
How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?Find out here.