You've successfully navigated those years when your grandchildren were young and have avoided offending the parents of babies and toddlers with remarks about pacifiers or hair bows. You might think that you are home free. Guess again. Even though your grandchildren are now in school, there are still topics that can be tricky for a grandparent to manage tactfully. It's no time to let your guard down, especially considering that immediately after this stage comes the dreaded teen years. Knowing what not to say to your teenage grandchildren -- that could fill up a large book! So relax, enjoy your school-age grandchildren and get a little more practice in what not to say.
- Grades are not that important. This may be music to your grandchild's ears, but the parents most likely think that grades are important. If you say it to a grandchild, it will reach the ears of the parents sooner or later. Want to really tick off the parents? Follow up the grades-not-important speech with a tidbit about how the grandchild's mom or dad didn't always make the best of grades. That's a surefire winner.
- That little boy who sits next to you -- is he your boyfriend? It is the job of grandparents to help their grandchildren enjoy being kids, although we should also encourage them to take on appropriate responsibilities. It's not our job to encourage their romantic interests. That will occur naturally, in due time.
- Your parents won't buy that for you? Well, just put it on Grandma's list. It doesn't matter whether the item in question is a soft drink or a laptop computer: if the parents have vetoed it, you should abide by their decision.
- Your coach said you need to work on your swing? Can't he see that you're a natural! You're probably smart enough not to criticize the parents of your grandchildren, but it's not smart to criticize the other adults in their lives either. It undermines the authority of those adults, who, in some cases, are being paid by the parents to instruct their children. Telling the grandchildren to ignore the advice that parents are paying good money for -- not a good move.
- You haven't been to see Grandpa in such a long time! Your grandchildren are still of an age to need a chauffeur. If they really haven't been to see you recently, you should take it up with those who are old enough to drive them there. Or, better yet, get in the car and go to visit your grandchild. My mother-in-law used to point out that the road runs both ways. But don't forget to call ahead instead of dropping in.