10 Tips For Being A Reasonable Grandparent


Relationships with ­in-­laws can be a major source of stress for many families. Add a new baby in the mix, and things can go from tense to flat out explosive. So, in the interest of diffusing some situations before they blow up like a nuclear warhead, I offer the following tips to new grandparents:

1. Don’t expect a ringside seat. Many women feel that birth is a private moment, and not a spectator sport. Respect this.

2. Remember: It’s not YOUR baby. Your baby is the father or mother of the baby. This is your grand-baby. Wonderful, absolutely, but since you weren’t in the bed, or swinging from the chandelier, or wherever baby was made, please don’t use the term, ‘my baby’. Not to mention the odd looks you’re guaranteed to get when making introductions: “This is my son, his wife, and that (pointing at her abdomen) is MY baby!” Folks end up in the news for stuff like that.

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3. Grandchildren are not do-overs. Your own parenting experience may not have been all that you wanted it to be. You may have come to realize that you would have done somethings differently, given the chance. You cannot make up for any mistakes (perceived or real) that you made with your children via your grandchild. So, don’t surprise anyone at a birthday party with the announcement of a new pony, or trip to Disney.

4. Don’t offer advice. If new parents want opinions, they’ll ask for them. Unsolicited advice can be taken as passive aggressive insults, so don’t even go there. This goes ten thousand times for criticism. Nobody, especially a new mom, needs to hear how the house should be neater, she’s not losing the baby weight fast enough, how much better you/your daughter/next door neighbour’s cousin was at anything than she is. Yes, you raised your baby/babies. But they weren’t this baby.

5. Baby is not a muppet. Don’t ‘talk’ through the baby. “Mommy, I’d looooove to spend next weekend at Grandma’s!” Don’t do it. It’s annoying, it’s passive aggressive, and you look like an idiot. Unless you’re a professional ventriloquist. Then it could be hilarious. Especially if you do impressions.

6. Don’t set up your own nursery. Unless you’ve been ASKED to babysit full time, (don’t assume!) baby won’t need furniture at your house. And nothing says Hand That Rocks The Cradle crazy like a Grandma that has a full nursery outfitted, without being asked.

7. Accept the name. I understand that there are some names that are, well, very creative. Feel free to wince all you like…where nobody else can see you. You’ll think Sherbethoneydew Kadidlefancypants is beautiful anyways.

8. Call ahead. As irresistible as new babies can be, do NOT drop in. Call, (and I don’t mean from the driveway!) and make plans. A couple of days ahead is a good time to shoot for. Babies don’t go stale, I promise.

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9. Don’t score keep. Grand­parenting isn’t a competitive sport. Who gets the biggest presents, the most gifts, pictures, calls, outfits…none of that guarantees the quality of the relationship, and comparing never makes anyone happier.

10. If in doubt, ask. So much has changed, with different safety standards, food allergies, even sleep positioning that asking is always a good idea.Really, what it boils down to is, respect the parents decisions and boundaries. You can’t go wrong if you’re recognizing your adult child and his spouse as a united team.

Related post: 10 Tips For Being The Daughter-in-Law Your MIL Wants

About the writer

Melissa lives in the frozen Tundra, aka 'Canada'. She spends her days being The Wife to Wolf, and That Weird Homeschooling Mom to Diva, Tazzie, Princess, Boo and Cubby. She's also alpha wench to Bazinga, the big, red, clueless dog.You can find her blogging at Not A Stepford Life, on Pinterest, Facebook  annnnnnd Twitter.


Kathy Patrick 1 year ago

I would love to read the comments of you know-it-alls in about 20 years – I’m sure it would be hilarious. Almost as much as now with y’all trying to tell grown-up women how to act. I know many more young ones that would benefit from behavior tips on how to be “reasonable”. We grandmothers are awesome, know a thing or two about what we’re doing, and won’t be told to sit in the corner.
By the way, I have a wonderful sense of humor, communicate primarily by sarcasm, but my panties certainly do get in a wad in a hurry when the situation calls for it.

Karen 1 year ago

Does this author live in my head? Awesome! Let’s see, also, don’t make passive aggressive comments about the other grandma while snuggling my baby … Don’t get professional pictures taken of your grandchild while they are visiting and then pass out prints to the family … And please don’t lift up mommy’s shirt when she’s trying to privately nurse so that you can watch …

Velina 2 years ago

Thank you for ruining the happiness of the birth of my grandson due in January 2015! I will never feel the same. Your “expert opinion” was a post by my daughter-in-law supposedly to influence another friend’s mother. It crushed my heart! What the hell do you!!!!!!

Marisa Laugen 2 years ago


Tracy W 2 years ago

I live in a different country to my mum, and my mother and one of her friends whose daughter is in a similar situation share baby furniture. It’s very convenient. Although I still am annoyed that they ignored my recommendation for a cheap, easy-clean high chair in favour of fancy one with loads of crannies.

Monique S Smiley 2 years ago


Erin Patrick McGregor 2 years ago

This is a MUCH better article than the “daughter-in-law” one – and it has nothing to do with the point of view from which it’s written – it’s just more polite! And again makes me SOOOOO thankful for my MIL! She’s a wonderful Mother, Mother-In-Law, Grandparent, and Friend! 😀

Sofia Alvarez 2 years ago

Love this so much….

Kristen Johnson 2 years ago

I relate to all of them in some way, but especially #10!

Renee Puzio Troisi 2 years ago

Keep your distance

Suzanne Frenz Atkinson 2 years ago

Great article for all grandparents to read. I would like to think that after 6+ years of being a grandparent I am doing well with each issue. Ask my children and daughter-in-laws!

Kayla Smith 2 years ago

This is so perfect . All 10 pretty much almost to a tee what someone needs to LEARN amongst other things

Andria Gosnell 2 years ago

All true.

Clara M Del Sol 2 years ago

I’m a grandmother of two – I recognize that I made several mistakes (i.e. #1, #4, #6, #8 from the list). Well I’ve learned my lesson and have stand corrected. I promise I shall be the best “reasonable in-law” of the 21st Century.

Jan Taylor 2 years ago

My #11. don’t compare your grand baby to your dog.
It’s stupid, annoying and drives your son and DIL bonkers.
Oh and #12. Don’t go to your DIL’s former place of employment (where no one knows you) and announce that she just got a positive pregnancy test, seriously, wth?????
Oh the stories I have…

Nicole Slaughter 2 years ago

Stop telling me that i need to “spank” my 8 year old for being a bed wetter. that’s why i don’t let her come over and spend weekends with you anymore!!

Amberlee Stout 2 years ago

Remember ur place!!!!!

Brandy Garrett Albritton 2 years ago

I love this. Soooo true


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