Are You a Helicopter Grandparent?

Today we’d like to share with you a wonderful post from Cavin Harper at Christian Grandparenting Network. If you haven’t checked out The CGN website yet, we encourage you to do so. It is filled with resources, insightful articles, and podcasts from Cavin’s “Not on My Watch” weekly radio program–all designed to help you become a better and more intentional grandparent.

In this article, Cavin shares on the downsides of being a “helicopter grandparent.”

Are You a Helicopter Grandparent?

Joyce likes to hover. She hovers over her daughter by examining and critiquing everything she does. When her grandson was born she hovered—“That’s not the right way. Let me show how to do it, dear.” When the child was sick or had a runny nose, she would drop by with the recommended remedies and makes sure they were probably administered. At every stage of development, Joyce was there with her advice and ‘words of encouragement’, which translated mean, “Let me show you how to do it.” Her daughter feels like she is still treated like a little girl. Even her grandson, now eight, feels smothered by Grandma’s attention.

Hovering grandparents (or parents) are like a helicopter always looking over another’s shoulders and beating them with the constant battering of wind and chatter. I have talked with many parents, especially mothers, who resent the constant ‘hovering’ of a mother or mother-in-law. Men are not exempt from the hovering offense either. Men do like to ‘fix’ things, after all.

Wise grandparents understand their boundaries and even discuss them with their adult children to make sure that they are not violating those boundaries. Our goal as grandparents is to build up and enable our adult children to be the best parents possible. Interference and giving advice are not the approaches that will help them succeed as parents. There are times when it is necessary to give advice, but mostly it should be given only when asked.

Wise grandparents trust their adult children to make mistakes and learn. More importantly, they trust God to protect and guide. They know when to step in and when to stay out. Wisdom builds up. Hovering foolishly tears down. May God grant you wisdom so that you can land that helicopter and do some groundwork of building solid foundations for a strong home.

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In writing Grandparenting Through Obstacles, we quickly discovered that the issue of establishing boundaries and balance between parents and grandparents was a major concern of many grandparents. They’re never quite sure if they’re doing too much or not enough, or if they should even dare ask.

Because of this, we decided to devote one-fourth of the book to “Partnering with Parents.” In this section readers will learn of other grandparents who have struggled with the issues of boundaries and balance and how they successfully navigated through its troubled waters. We hope you will check it out for some creative ideas that may help you or someone you know.

Thank you to Cavin Harper for sharing his insights on helicopter grandparenting! You can check out his original article on this topic on the CGN blog.

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