We've all had that moment when we wanted to intervene, when we've wanted to tell our son or daughter--or their spouses--a better way to handle our grandchild (also known as their child). To put a nice gloss on it, we've wanted to share the benefit of our experience.
Bad idea. (See Notes to Self in side column). We're not talking about abuse here--that's a whole different subject. We're talking about all the little things they --the parents -- could be doing better from our perspective.
Here's a reminder from a Philip Galanes Social Q columns (Galanes being my favorite and most amusing social adviser) about using our critical abilities to turn a negative view of our child's parenting approach into a positive --or at least neutral-- one.
The case in point: A reader wrote Galanes to complain about her daughter-in-law for whom English is a second language, one she speaks well but not the one she uses to converse with her 4-year-old child. Both the DIL and the reader's son want to raise their child to be bilingual--a worthy goal in this interconnected global world. The reader's complaint: the DIL speaks to her child in her native language all the time, even when the grandparents, who live across the country and who do not speak the language, are visiting. "We sit clueless for long stretches while they talk," the reader complains. "The same thing happens to my son, who barely speaks their language. We don’t object to our granddaughter learning another language, but we don’t want to feel so left out. Do you agree that this behavior is totally rude?
Galanes does not. Nor does he see the linguistic approach (a basic way to raise a bilingual child) as an attack on the grandparents. He suggests the grandparents ask their son (who speaks to his daughter in English) or DIL how they can be more part of the conversation when they're visiting. "It may be cumbersome for a little girl to translate chats with her mom into English," Galanes writes, "but pretending your ride to the mall is a session at the United Nations sounds like fun."
His bottom line is one for all seasons and moments of grandparenting displeasure: "You had your crack at raising children. Now it’s their turn. And raining on their parade will only make you an unpopular houseguest."