Being a grandmother to your children's children is a great gift. Being a good grandmother who respects boundaries is also a great gift for the parents of your grandchildren.
I saw a cartoon once depicting a little girl running toward her grandmother. Both were smiling with arms open wide. The caption read, "What would I do without you?"
I mentioned this cartoon to my mother who was in that era enjoying my young children. I wondered, "Who is saying that? I think it's the little girl."
My mother laughed. "I was thinking it must be the grandmother."
This set of relationships involving parent, child and grandparent can be a wonderful symbiotic arrangement. But things don't always work out that way.
I am speaking as a grandparent here, who values being allowed to be part of the lives of her children and grandchildren. I have been a long-distance grandmother for a decade now -- and a whole OTHER set of principles apply to the long-distance thing.
Only recently I was presented with a belated Christmas present by my daughter and son-in-law who live nearby. So I am a beginner in some respects but one who is eager to learn.
I try to stay aware of boundaries, and I try not to cross them.
We need to be careful. We don't want to blow something that is potentially so marvelous.
It may be tempting to rush in and take charge, especially when you are new to the game and your child is new to being a parent. That new grandbaby is so delicious and we're just trying to help!
But watch your step. There is not just a fine line between being helpful and being intrusive — it is in fact a very obvious line that will be quite blatant to everyone around you.
Don't cross it. If you've already crossed it, backtrack like crazy. And apologize.
Perhaps you don't agree with how the young mother is feeding your grandchild. Is she breastfeeding and you aren't comfortable with it? Is she NOT breastfeeding and going with formula and you don't like that?
Doesn't matter. As long as your grandchild is being fed, it is none of your business.
Do you want your grandbaby to wear certain types of clothes?