Mind Your Manners
Grandparents--did I get your attention!
Mind Your Manners Grandparents! Did I get your attention with that phrase or idiom? Growing up in a small country town in Texas, my brother and I were often reminded by our parents and friendly neighbors the phrase, ‘Mind your Manners.’
Today, I find that as I look at society, I wish I could repeat this phrase to many that I come in contact. How about you, did you hear this phrase while growing up?
So really, what does this phrase mean? I have heard this expressed several ways including, “Mind Your Manners,” “Mind your P’s and Q’s” (please and thank you’s or don’t ask too many questions) really means:
referring to a general statement to ‘pay attention in life and remember what you were taught as a child by your parents.’
Do you remember these phrases or idioms while growing up?
Yes, during our early lives, did you find it was usually the mother that would enforce the importance of being on your “best behavior” while at home and especially, out in public.
Then, the father that would re-emphasize (often with a hand or belt) if you didn’t remember this phrase.
Do you remember how you learned the best way to behave in public and how to "mind your manners" no matter where you were or what was happening?
Below are a few key suggestions that I feel everyone should be able to follow to create a very happy family atmosphere as you interpret how to Mind Your Manners Grandparents:
1. Know your Place! Love your grandbabies…..but remember they do go home with their parents. Unless twins or multiples are born, grandparents may not be considered as essential. Yes, laughingly “enough to go around” phrase was used often after the birth of our twin grandsons.
This lovingly meant with multiple births, there is always a baby to change, bottles to wash, food to make, clothes to wash, etc. However, with only one child, you may feel as if you ‘have to get in line’ to share this same experience.
Having had children, we realized that it has been years since we had been involved in the ‘parenting’ experience and some traditional activities we knew, have changed. As Grandparents, as I began this journey, I felt we should know our place and not ever overstep our boundaries.
As grandparents, we are expected to develop a loving trust with the new parents as they try to understand what has just happened to them and realize that their lives have changed forever!
Also, remember to reassure them, that what they are now experiencing about the third day after being home from the hospital, is just sleep deprivation!
2. Be Polite as you discuss child rearing with your child…. I guess, even though our kids signed us up to attend the Grandparenting Classes at the hospital, we thought we knew how to take care of babies.
However, as we were told things have changed during the last 30 years since our children were born! Due to technology and access to the Internet, it is amazing to see how much your kids know about everything in rearing their children.
I had found myself
listening to my daughter say that they would not spank their twin sons and that
I wasn’t to “swat their rear-ends” when they didn’t listen to me or continued
to disobey me. In other words, Mind My Manners Grandparents and follow the rules we have established.
I had to laugh just this last week when my daughter told me that her son’s now know the meaning of “NO” and that she had to spank them when they poured the dog’s water bowl all over the laundry room and kitchen! I had to laugh to myself…..”Welcome to motherhood, my daughter!”
Yes, I do want to continue to abide by their
family decisions and rules, but when the boys are at our house, let them know
that “Poppi and GiGi are in control and what is and isn’t allowed.”
3. Accept it. As the 15 minute away, Grandparent…you should accept your role! Yes, that you are going to be a primary grandparent. Accept, appreciate and admit you love every minute of this experience! Yes, the closer you live, you will probably be called on to be a grandparent, caregiver or just a babysitter. Whatever your title is, the time with your grandchildren is magical!
So, when does it mean at your house when your kids
come to visit? I call this “just
dropping by” and it usually means at our house:
Are you tired yet? This can be within an hour visit! Yes, the joys of coming to our house! I want them to always feel wanted, loved, and excited to have a new adventure at Poppi and GiGi’s!
As long as you love and protect your grandchildren, keep your mouth shut (see rule #7 below) and carry out the requests of the parents, you will be the ‘Cat’s Meow’, “#1”, or in other words the one that is always called on when something or someone is needed!
Unconditional love of
your grandchildren is by far the most important consideration that you can
offer! Mind Your Manners Grandparents and spread the love!
4. Be consistent. Are you being taken advantage of? My husband often tells me to “Get a life!” Yes, he feels that I’m too available or even taken advantage of by my loved ones…..I think NO, these are my choices!
That is how I deal with my life! After retirement, I realize my calling in life is to continue to give my time to my loved ones. My Mom has lived with us the past two years and I’m thankful everyday that she is with us.
Now that my role is known as GiGi, I believe it even more! So whenever my kids or grandchildren need me, I will be available. I know that I have other responsibilities too, my husband, my Mom, my son who lives in another area of the state, but my priority now is not to miss those special times with my Grandsons.
So if their Mom wants me to go to the park around 4:00 just to play on the slide, you can imagine, I’m going to be there! Just like if my friend that lives 40 miles away needs me to help with a project, I will do my best to be there to help!
Yes, as my husband calls me, I’m
a giver…..of my time and that is my personality, my choice and my advantage!
5. A Foregone conclusion: I will share and love all the special times. By living only 15 minutes away from our grandsons, we are in a unique situation. We bought our home just that close so we would have an involvement in our grandchildren’s lives and assist their parents through this process.
We really didn’t want to be a Long-Distance grandparent even if it was only an hour away. The use of Skype or Face Time and talking on the phone are just not the same as holding, hugging, loving, and kissing my grandsons.
Yes, I know I’m truly fortunate to have this opportunity! My husband never knew his grandparents who lived in Italy. Born of Italian immigrants in New York, he never traveled back to meet his grandparents or family and he realizes that he really missed an opportunity! He does understand the importance of his grandchildren and wants to be around them as much as possible.
I’m reminded of my own life where I lived
just down the road from my maternal grandfather and about 10 miles from my
fraternal grandparents who we visited almost every weekend! Experiences I shared with each of them were
so important in developing who I am today.
Yes, I’m truly thankful for this new life experience filled with love
and excitement and when the twins come running to me with their arms
outstretched and calling out, “GiGi,” my heart melts!
6. “Watch 'em like a hawk” – is another idiom that expresses how we feel when we need to watch our grandsons! This means in order to protect them from getting hurt, then we will need to ‘watch ‘em like a hawk!’
I can remember my Dad saying this to me and my brother as we played on our farm climbing trees and jumping out of the barn on a rope swing.
So yesterday when my youngest grandson was climbing up onto the coffee table, then to the lamp table and on to the lap of my Mom that I should realize that he is in another developmental phase and we just need to show him the proper way to get down so he won’t injury himself!
Oh, yes, we will also be watching like a mother hawk!
Yes, I feel this is probably the most important of all the tips that I have given to you today. Although it may be the most difficult to follow, please remember how important it is to not interfere in your children's business!
7. Be Courteous. Watch your language. In other words, “Keep your mouth shut unless asked!” All too often, I have to remind my husband this comment when it comes to his offering his opinion on rearing his grandsons.
Your advice, suggestions and opinions will not be welcomed, unless your child directly solicits your opinion. Remember this unspoken rule that I have heard all my life, it is all too important to forget! Don’t offer advice unless it is requested! Don’t meddle!
I recall a funny exclamation from a
sentence I read in Eye of My Heart, by Anne Roiphe, as she exclaims, “Ah,
my poor tongue is sore from being bitten." Yes, my tongue has been munched on a few
So in conclusion, lets review the ways for all Grandparents to "Mind Your Manners" and enjoy this wonderful time of life!