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6 Ways to Avoid Grandparent Mistakes That Could Ruin Your Relationship

Today’s post on the ins and outs of parenting parents and avoiding mistakes so that you have the best relationship with your grands, was written by parenting blogger, Kristin Herman. Enjoy, darling!

image of honey good holding up her book, Stories for My Grandchildren" in front of her face up to her eyes. She shares her stories and her wisdom of how to avoid grandparent mistakes

Your grandchildren are precious to you, but sometimes we wade into grandparent mistakes without realizing it.

In a world where family connections seem to fray more easily than ever, the heartbreaking reality of estrangement between adult children and their parents is becoming more common. Grandparents often find themselves caught in the middle, eager to connect with their grandchildren but unsure of the best way to navigate the ever-changing dynamics.

The good news is that strong, healthy grandparent-grandchild relationships are absolutely possible. The key lies in avoiding some common mistakes that can unintentionally create tension and distance. Here are 6 things every grandparent should keep in mind to ensure a fulfilling connection with their grandkids, without stepping on any toes:

1. Respect the Rules, Not Just the Roof

Every family has its own set of rules, from bedtime routines to screen time limits. While unsolicited advice might come from a place of love, constantly suggesting “better” ways to raise the little ones can create friction with your adult children. Remember, they’re the parents now, and their rules are what keep the household running smoothly. Put yourself in their shoes and remember how much you loved it when your parents would suggest how you should handle certain situations — not that much!

However, that doesn’t mean your experience is irrelevant! Offer advice next time it’s sought after, and focus on being a supportive presence. Your adult child will appreciate the respect for their boundaries, and your grandkids will benefit from having a loving grandparent in their corner.


2. Skip the Surprise Pop-Ins

The arrival of a new baby throws everything into a whirlwind for new parents. While you’re probably bursting with excitement and can’t wait to meet your grandchild, resist the urge to show up unannounced. A quick phone call to check in and schedule a visit at a convenient time shows respect for their new routine and ensures a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Remember, those first few weeks can be a blur for new parents. Your offer to help is likely music to their ears, but a little planning goes a long way. This way, you can be there to lend a hand when they truly need it, without adding to the chaos.

This rule should continue on beyond the days of new parent/grandparenthood. While it is tempting to scoop our grands up for an impromptu outing, we really should respect their parents and always keep them in the loop and plan ahead. Everyone wins!

See this list for some fun ways to entertain your grandchild on a rainy day, and here are some unexpected things to do out of doors with your grandchildren (of all ages!).

3. It’s Okay to Say No

There’s no doubt that being a grandparent comes with its perks. You get to experience the joy of seeing your little ones grow up all over again, but without the sleepless nights and diaper duty. However, it’s important to be honest about your own limitations. Don’t feel pressured to agree to babysitting every weekend if it’s more than you can handle.

Setting boundaries early on is crucial. Talk openly with your adult child about the kind of grandparent role you envision for yourself. Maybe you’d prefer weekly outings or a set number of nights a month. By being upfront about your availability, you avoid resentment down the line and ensure a more sustainable, enjoyable relationship with your grandkids.

How To Say No To Your Grandchildren

4. Discipline Doesn’t Have to Disappear

Grandparents often have a reputation for being the “fun” ones who spoil their grandkids rotten. While the occasional indulgence is perfectly fine, becoming the “soft touch” on discipline can create problems for both you and your adult child.

If your grandchild throws a tantrum, resist the urge to cave in and give them exactly what they want. Work together with your adult child to establish clear expectations for behavior, and be consistent in enforcing them when you’re together. In the long run, your grandchild will learn valuable lessons and appreciate your love and firmness in equal measure.

5. Respect the Non-Negotiables

Let’s face it, a little extra sugar or a bedtime story that stretches past the usual limit probably won’t cause a family feud. But some rules, like screen time limits or safety precautions, are non-negotiable.

Before you head over for a visit, check in with your adult child about any specific rules they’d like you to be aware of. Following these guidelines shows respect for their parenting style and helps create a sense of consistency for your grandchild. Remember, everyone benefits when the rules are clear and everyone’s on the same page.

6. Questions are Welcome (and Expected!)

Being a grandparent is a learning experience, even if you’ve raised children of your own. Things have changed a lot, and navigating the new world of parenting can be confusing at times. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

If you’re unsure about something, open communication with your adult child is key. They’d much rather you check in with them first than make an assumption that could potentially lead to a misunderstanding. By being open and honest, you show respect for their choices and ensure a stronger, more trusting relationship with both your child and your grandchild.

Be a Globetrotting Grandma: Travel with Grandchildren

So What Can You Do to Foster a Relationship With Your Grands?

While this may seem like a list of don’ts, I also want to touch on the dos. You are the keeper of your story and your families traditions. Impress upon your child the importance of continuing these traditions, as I’m sure you did as they were growing up. Every chance you get, pass these stories on to your grandchildren, showing them how special it is to be a part of your family.

And always, always, always show them they are loved by you, even when you may not always agree with their parents. I hope this goes without saying, if you do disagree, be sure to keep that private from your grandchild. That’s between you and their parent, it’s not about sides.

By following these tips and fostering open communication, you can avoid common pitfalls and build a strong, lasting bond with your grandchildren. Remember, the goal is to create a loving, supportive environment where everyone feels respected and appreciated.

You can be a source of joy, wisdom, and unconditional love in your grandchildren’s lives, all while maintaining a healthy and supportive relationship with your adult child. So, cherish the precious time you have with your grandkids, offer your love and support freely, and enjoy the incredible journey of grandparenthood!

What advice do you give first time or fellow grandparents? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page! 



Honey's Book, Stories for My Grandchild

Kristin Herman is an experienced tech enthusiast and a project manager. She regularly writes parenting articles for a wide variety of online magazines and blogs. When not writing, Kristin enjoys spending time with her family and organizing family day trips.



May 7, 2024


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  1. Micki Johnston says:

    As a grandmimi of an almost 3 year old and a 5 month old, I found this article most helpful. These are excellent points which grandparents need to give serious consideration. Thank you for this sound input. Good job! — Micki

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