9. Don't be afraid to enforce your own rules on your own turf, but choose them wisely.
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One friend of mine has white carpet in her living room. To protect it, she has the rule, “No eating or drinking in the living room.” Another friend doesn’t allow her grands to watch certain television shows. “Sorry,” she says matter of factly, “Mimi doesn’t care for that type of show.” Yet another prefers no television at all. “Go pick out three books,” she’ll say when they ask to watch a show, “or choose a game from the game closet.” At our house, our grandchildren know we pray before we eat, everyone carries their plate to the sink after a meal, and we always read a Bible story before bedtime.
As we train our grandchildren to respect our rules, it’s important to share the whys behind them. “Grandma and Grandpa saved our money for two years to buy that new carpet, and we want to keep it nice.” Or “Television is fun to watch, but reading and playing games are better ways to make your brain smart.”
As you enforce the house rules, however, be careful not to have too many. Constantly correcting them and enforcing standards can grow wearisome and can harm, rather than help, relationships. Don’t be a Gestapo Granny or Grandpa. If your grandchildren spend a lot of time at your house, setting basic, age-appropriate house rules will make visits more enjoyable. If they visit infrequently, you’ll want to mention only the ones that are most important to you.
Keep in mind that it’s not our primary responsibility to train our grandchildren. It is, however, our privilege to support their parents as they train them. On the flip side, if our son, daughter, or their spouse instructs the child in certain behavior, we shouldn’t undermine their attempt by saying, “Oh, it’s okay. He doesn’t have to do that at Grandma’s house.” Back them up, even if the matter in question isn’t important to you.
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