Can You Love Your Grandchild Too Much?

A grandmother worries that she's become fixated on her granddaughter.

By Susan Stiffelman

I have a wonderful 2-year-old granddaughter who brings great joy to my life. However, my husband says I think and talk about her too much, and that I need to get a life that doesn't revolve around her. Is it abnormal to want my granddaughter in my life so much? Is it unhealthy to talk about her so much?

I'm not a big fan of the word normal. For one thing, I don't believe any of us qualifies. Part of what makes life so interesting is that we're each unique individuals who put our own stamp on our life experiences.

I also know that when we compare ourselves to people we think are "doing it right" (whatever it happens to be) the one predictable outcome is that we feel bad about ourselves.

You love your granddaughter. That's fantastic! She is a lucky girl to be so cherished by her grandma, and you undoubtedly feel pretty lucky to have her in your life. There's nothing abnormal or wrong about that.

Most people like having more of whatever they enjoy. If a little butter tastes good on that baked potato, a lot of butter will be even better. If a three-day cruise is heavenly, we'll wish we'd signed up for the full week. On the other hand, if we're not careful about appreciating what we have, we run the risk of never feeling we have enough.

It's easy to want more of what brings you pleasure — in your case, time with your granddaughter — but if you indulge that desire excessively, you could end up creating problems that interfere with enjoying the moments you have together.

Sometimes grandparents feel an insatiable longing to be with their grandkids. While the feeling behind that desire is fine, there is danger if you cannot be satisfied with the time you get. In addition to upsetting your husband, your granddaughter's parents may resent being asked to fulfill your need to see her at the expense of their own family time. You could also potentially be putting pressure on your granddaughter to satisfy your need for her affection.

Consider your husband's feelings: The last thing you want is for this wonderful child to become a wedge between two of her favorite people. His concerns may not seem reasonable to you, but put your defenses aside and hear him out. Is he feeling shortchanged by all the attention you give your granddaughter? Does he feel he's losing out on your companionship, or does he miss the fun things you usually do together because so much of your energy is devoted to her?

Your husband could simply have a case of the Grandpa Blues, feeling a bit pushed aside and envious of the love you have for your granddaughter. By making him feel heard and showing that you care, you'll help him adjust to the space you've carved out for your granddaughter. But he may also be making an important point. If you really are talking constantly about your granddaughter, you could be forgetting to keep your other interests alive.

Any time we put too much of ourselves into one particular aspect of our lives, things become unbalanced and out of whack. Make sure you're keeping up with friendships, hobbies, and activities, lest you create a life that's narrow and constrained.

Savor the love you have for your granddaughter, but remember: Our hearts are big enough to love many people. Make sure you aren't pushing the rest of your life aside by focusing exclusively on her. Enjoy her when you're together, and then make sure you make time to take care of the other relationships that mean so much to you.

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