How To Establish Boundaries for Grandparents

                                                 My grandson and I at the pumpkin patch


I love my role as a grandmother. I’ve been a proud grandmother for 7 years, and I actually see my role no differently from my daughter’s. I want the best for my grandchildren just like my daughter and son-in-law.    


Grandparents have an obligation to ensure our grandchildren are healthy, nourished, clothed, educated, have a roof over their heads, and enjoy life too.  It’s important that we create memories of them spending time with us as well.  How many children do you know that protest going to visit their grandparents?  There’s a reason for that, and that’s why we have the title “Grand”.  

                                                        Zarriah, sleepy, at Myrtle Beach, SC

It’s a special relationship, one that differs somewhat from raising our sons and daughters.  We have more experience in the parenting field, know the history of the family and most times in a better financial position than we were when we were raising our children.  My daughter and son-in-law depend on me to assist in the upbringing of their children, but they made it clear that they are the parents and I needed to abide by their rules and wishes. Establishing boundaries for grandparents is simple, have a conversation with your parents and talk about expectations.   


Accepting my daughter’s wishes was a hard hard pill for me to swallow, but I knew that I did not want to jeopardize my relationship with my grandchildren or my children, so I swallowed it.  There are times when they are being disciplined that I really have to bit my tongue and not pull rank. I will eventually make things better, but I have learned to be respectful.  Because I have made a conscious decision to not overstep boundaries, I have been able to build a great relationship with my grandchildren without offending my children. 

                                       My grandson and his grandfather at the carnival

Here’s a few tips for establishing a great relationship with your grandchildren without interfering with the parent’s rules and wishes:


  • Don’t cross the lines –  Children need to understand the roles of the adults in their life and see that you’re on the same page as mom and dad.
  • Establish traditions with your grandchildren –  Each year I take Xavier to the pumpkin patch and make sure he gives Santa his Christmas list.  Zarriah is now old enough to be included in these traditions.  
  • Create memories that are only available at grandma and granddad’s – I make special pancakes and waffles for their breakfast when they’re visiting.  We have craft time, go out to lunch or dinner, and they love MawMaw’s chicken wings. My daughter does not attempt to duplicate any of these special moments.    
  • If you’re divorced and I am, demonstrate that you can co-grandparent – I ensure my ex-husband is involved in activities at my home when they’re visiting.  (Gaga is participating in Xavier’s visit above).  
  • Become involved in their school and after school activities – I make an effort to meet teachers, attend school and sporting events etc.  I want to know who’s responsible for their education, who’s providing child care and I want them to know me.  
  • Keep the children on track – Stay on schedule with bedtimes, bath times, manners and discipline.  You don’t want to cause any setbacks for the parents.
  • Be creative – Tell them a story about your upbringing or their parents.  My granddaughter loves for me to make up stores about her being a princess and including family members.   
  • Become the family historian – Talk about other family members and your memories of them.  
  • Polish your craft skills – Children love making things for parents and grandparents.  
  • Take your grandchildren on a road trip – Spend a few days at the beach, camping or snow tubing.  They will remember it forever.  
  • Never discuss conflicting issues in front of the children – If there are disagreements on raising them, discipline concerns etc., discuss them away from the children.  
  • Keep the lines of communication open – Let your children know that you’re available for advice on parenting or just to listen. My daughter values my opinion on raising the children and life.   

My daughter enjoys listening to me tell the children stories and watching us make cookie and brownie treats. She looks forward to me visiting and spending time with the children, because she knows that I respect her as a mother. In return, she respects me as their grandmother. Many times she wants to participate in the activities as well. It’s a great feeling when she calls and asks when I’m coming to visit.  

My advice to parents, accept that grandparents play a special role in a child’s life. We’re sugar queens and kings and we become sneaky creatures. Yes, our perspective on things have changed from when we raised you. We can justify anything that our grandchildren do as long as they’re not bringing harm to themselves. Our job was to get you out of the house, our job now is to get our grandchildren in.

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How Do You Choose Grandparent Names

Did your children decide on their grandparent’s name or did your parents make the decision on what they wanted to be called?  My grandson ultimately made the decision for me.  I had initially selected the name Gran, but it didn’t stick. 

I was visiting my grandson one week-end, and when I walked into the house he said Mawmaw.  Where’s Gaga (referring to his grandfather)?  At that moment, Gran went out the window.   I must admit, I was surprised he called me Mawmaw.  I’ve often wondered how he came up with those names for us.  Especially, since I had been calling myself Gran for almost 2 years.  His grandfather had been calling himself granddaddy.  Isn’t it amazing how things can change in a split second. 

Now, I must admit that I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the name Mawmaw.  I didn’t think it was a fit for me and it sounded so old fashion.  I felt somewhat disappointed.  Afterall, I’m not your typical grandma.  I’m a high heel wearing diva who’s into blogging, texting, social media, and a need for wine.  I just wasn’t feeling Mawmaw.  I chose the name Gran because I didn’t want to end up with an old fashion out of date name.  Gran was traditional, but still had a sophisticated ring to it.  My daughter stated, “Mom you have to be whatever he calls you”.  I wasn’t sure if I was disappointed because I had spent 9 months selecting a name and it was suddenly gone or because the name sounded so country and out of date.  The only other person that I knew as Mawmaw was my 60 year old Aunt.   My grandson had thrown a wrench into the plans.  My siblings had chosen their names, and I wanted that opportunity too.     

Our grandchildren use a variety of names for us.  In my family there’s Poppy, Nana, Granny, and Granddaddy.  As I was discussing the name change with co-workers, I was surprised to find out that many of their grandchildren called them MawMaw.  It was actually a popular name.  Who knew!

As I continued to think about it, it suddenly didn’t matter what he  called me as long as he called my name.  My grandson had changed my life forever.  I looked at the change totally different.  What’s in a name?  I realized that my grandson had a mind of his own, and he was demonstrating his personality, his individuality, and how he felt about me.  I was a Mawmaw, and he believed it was a fit for me.  He didn’t see me as a diva, texter, blogger or wine taster.  I was simply his Mawmaw.  He has made it clear over the course of the years with his cousins, that’s my Mawmaw.  I have happily accepted the nomination.  I’ve held that title for 5 years, and I’m proud to wear it.  I now have a grandson and granddaughter.  I will continue to strive to be the #1 Mawmaw, because that is what is truly important. 

What do your grandchildren call you or your parents?  Leave us a comment, we would love to know.