Dear Grandparenting: If I say nothing, I doubt my grandchildren would ever lift a finger to help out around the house. But if I do ask for help, my grandchildren have a record of screwing things up.
They break more things than they ever think about fixing. My grandkids don’t go around putting holes in the walls or anything. Too often they act before they think.
So I wind up giving my grandkids some instruction, which they wind up resenting. Or they’ll try to convince me to do a job their way, which I resent because they’re always looking to take a shortcut.
I do not understand why this has to be so complicated. Why can’t the grandkids see what needs to be done and just do it without getting me involved? Is this really too much to ask? CC Rider, Reading, Pennsylvania
Dear CC: We are certainly familiar with grandchildren needing to be nudged into action. But perhaps more to the point, grandparents should be aware of the dynamics involved. The simple act of helping can be deceptively difficult, since it’s loaded with traps than can ensnare helper and helpee alike and sabotage this seemingly straightforward act.
Grandparents may dislike surrendering their self-reliance and power by asking for help, an admission of weakness. Are they fully open to being helped? Do they express gratitude, or something else?
As helpers, grandchildren without a clear idea of your expectations and an ability to complete the job are being set up to fail. We prefer to think of helping as a collaboration that obliges all parties to invest time and energy towards a successful completion of the task at hand.
Skip the counterproductive chatter about your grandchildren’s unsatisfactory work history and minimize the hovering. It’s a sure way to kill their sense of accomplishment, initiative and problem solving. If the grandparent-grandchild relationship morphs into a master-slave situation, you’ll see how uncooperative those grandkids can be.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Montana Munsey, of Burlington, Vermont, was in the kitchen making pancakes for her twin grandsons, Roger and Royce, 11, who were arguing about which one would get to eat the first pancake.
“If Jesus was here,” said Montana to no one in particular, “he would say, ‘Let your brother be first to eat.’”
Royce was quick on the draw. “Hey Roger,” he quipped, ”it’s your big chance to make points with the man upstairs.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.