Aiming to be the favorite grandparent is the wrong goal.
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I recently read Canny Granny: How to be the Favorite Grandparent by Elizabeth Gardner. I’ll get to my review in a minute, but first I want to address the sentiment in the title.
If you are striving to be the favorite grandparent, stop right now. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are approaching your relationship with your grandchild in part as a competition. There’s an inherent expectation that you want your grandchild to choose who they love the most. There’s the hope that the other grandparents will be less than you: Less connected, less involved, less loved.
The best grandparents are part of a team which works together to support and nurture the children in their lives. They may not ever interact with one another, or they may be a regular part of each other’s lives. Either way, there’s nothing to stop their grandchildren from thinking they are all outstanding grandparents.
Instead of trying to be THE favorite, let’s all strive to be A favorite grandparent on the grandparenting team.
As I wrote in a blog post last year:
As part of that team, here are some things to remember:
It isn’t one or the other. A child’s capacity to love is endless. They are fully capable of loving every grandparent who treats them and those they love with kindness and respect. If you are one of those people, you will be loved. This doesn’t mean they won’t have a favorite, but that is more dependent on the child’s needs at any stage than on how hard a grandparent is trying. Just as most children go through stages where they prefer one parent, they may favor one grandparent over another for a time. That will change as they grow and have different needs.
Children’s love can’t be bought. While a child may be dazzled by the grandmother who supplies an endless supply of fancy gifts, generosity is not one of the factors that predicts a close grandparent-grandchild relationship. These factors are physical proximity, frequency of contact (including virtual), grandparents’ roles in the family, the expectation of a close relationship, emotional bonding and sharing values. These take no money, and most can be achieved even from a distance.
There is no such thing as too much love. If your grandchildren are lucky enough to have multiple grandparents who want to be a part of their lives, be happy for them. We should all be so fortunate.
You can read the whole post here.
As for the book, the title premise is only one of the things that I found disappointing. It’s a lightweight, topical treatment of what you need to do to have a deep and lasting relationship with your grandchild. The $14.99 price seems steep for 53 pages, though I was able to read it for free by signing up for a Kindle Unlimited trial. (Sign up for your own trial here!)
The title made me think it would be a tongue-in-cheek book, full of humorous suggestions for outdoing other grandparents. Sadly, it seemed to be serious about instructing grandparents about what to do to be the favorite. And while the advice itself was generally solid, I didn’t find anything novel or inspiring.
As they say, your mileage may vary, and this may be the book you’ve been searching for: one with simple ideas and easy instructions. If so, do us all a favor and take a pen and change “THE favorite” to “A favorite” every time it appears.
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