Grandmothers should think twice when giving parenting advice — PHOTOS

There’s no manual, no guidebook, no orientation course. But for many mothers, there will come a day when “grandmother” will be added to their maternal resume.

And with that — let’s call it a promotion — can come a new set of challenges for both newly minted grandmothers and their newly minted children-turned-parents. But probably every parent and every parent’s parent would be happy to take on those challenges and maybe particularly so around Mother’s Day, which arrives today.

“I always say that grandchildren are our reward for being a mother,” says Cassandra Cotton, grandmother of Zaniaha, 16, and Antuan Jr., 18.

Marlene Wolfson, a grandmother of seven, would agree. Being a grandmother “is a gift,” she says, not just because of the chance it offers to enjoy one’s grandchildren, but because a grandmother can see her own kids “so happy and excited.”

But clashes between new parents and new grandmothers do occur. Carissa D’Aniello-Heyda, assistant professor in the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, recalls a few instances last fall of “grandmother-involved” family issues resulting from moms and grandmothers “having different rules and what, at the end of the day, are the rules.”

Conflicts can occur when, for example, grandmothers take a too-active and regular role in child care or hew to a different philosophy of child-rearing or discipline than a child’s parent.

In such cases, the decision to seek counseling usually comes from moms, D’Aniello-Heyda, says, adding that “My kid doesn’t respect me because Grandma’s kind of the head honcho, Grandma’s the one who’s got higher status in the family, so (they) listen to Grandma” is a typical complaint.

A mother’s authority then can be undermined.


“Kids know who’s in charge. If they witness Grandma reprimanding Mom, they’re going to pick up on that and they get the impression, ‘I don’t really have to listen to Mom, because Mom listens to Grandma.’”

Not that grandmothers necessarily intend to create difficulties between parents and grandchildren, D’Aniello-Heyda adds. “I think it’s just that sort of general idea of protecting their family, raising the family, doing everything you can to help the family, which is wonderful.”

So, in therapy, “we talk a lot about boundaries,” D’Aniello-Heyda says, with the mother and grandmother thinking through their respective roles and functions in the family.

Sometimes, rather than stepping in to fix what they perceive as shortcomings in their children’s parenting styles, grandparents have to simply “recognize that my son or daughter has to make a few mistakes as parents to become a better parent,” she says.

Cotton agrees that knowing when to step in and when to back off is a fine grandmotherly art. Sometimes, she admits, “we want to put our two cents in.”

Cotton notes that becoming a grandmother wasn’t always an easy transition. At times, “I really had to step back and look, because I really wanted to be the mom, and it’s better to be the grandmother,” she says.

Wolfson makes it her philosophy to not offer “any advice unless I’m asked to. It’s not my place.”

Wolfson’s daughter, Dana Berggren, says she and her mother seldom have clashes about parenting styles. But Berggren adds that she’s also “100 percent raising my children the same way that my parents, my mom, raised us.”

She laughs. “But I would say the difference with my mother being a mother and a grandmother is, now that she’s a grandmother, there’s a lot more ice cream and candy, and it involves a lot more than I remember growing up.”

Cherlyn Branton already was a grandmother when her daughter, Amanda Llewellyn, had her daughter, Kairi, now 9. Llewellyn can’t recall she and her mom having a serious parenting-related clash.

“I have so much respect for my mom,” Llewellyn says. “She was a single mom for a lot of my childhood. I saw her work so hard, and to me, she’s like the epitome of everything a woman should be.”

“What I’ve noticed is, my mom will try to work me a little bit, but not in the ‘I’m going to win you over’ way,” Llewellyn says. “More like, ‘I’m your mother and you need to listen to me.’”

Kairi calls her grandmother Lala. Once, Kairi, not liking the way that her mother handled an issue, “told me she’s going to go tell Lala on me, and I had to say, ‘You speak to Lala all you want. I’m a grown woman and your mother, and Lala has no say.’”

In such cases, Llewellyn says her mother “really does try to back me up and follow the guidelines that I’ve set out. That’s not to say we’re perfect, but she really does try.”

Branton says her daughter is raising Kairi “really close to the way I raised her” and that she’ll offer advice to Llewellyn if she thinks it would be helpful. And while she and her daughter have disagreed at times, “most of the time we agree,” Branton says.

Llewellyn “is a good mom, and I know she’s a good mom,” Branton says.

“The bottom line is making sure she understands it’s her decision. I had my shot at being a mom and I raised my kids the best I could, and I’m very proud of all of them.”

D’Aniello-Heyda suggests that newly minted grandmothers “enjoy your child, enjoy watching your son or daughter become parents. Don’t be afraid to let them make their own mistakes. Give your feedback when asked, but try to remember that they are the parents.”

And, to new parents, “realize this is special for them, not just for you,” she says. “Remember how special this is for them, and remember that it comes from a very good place. It’s not coming from them trying to undermine you. It comes from wanting to share … and wanting to be involved in that baby’s life, which is the best gift of all.”

D’Aniello-Heyda soon will examine mother-grandmother relationships from more than an academic perspective: She’s seven months pregnant, and says both sets of her child’s grandparents will be first-timers.

“We’ve been talking about how excited all of us are,” she says. “It isn’t only a transition for me, it’s a family transition for them, too. So it’s very thrilling.”

Read more from John Przybys at Contact him at and follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

Life and times of a 90-year-old horse player
Leo Polito of Las Vegas describes meeting legendary jockey and trainer Johnny Longden on the beach at Del Mar. Mike Brunker/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Learning the history of singing bowls
Presentation at Summerlin Library teaches residents about the history of singing bowls (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learning live-saving techniques in Stop the Bleed class
Leslie Shaffer, an AMR paramedic, shows how to control bleeding during a Stop the Bleed course at the Summerlin Library. The class is designed to teach anyone how to control and stop life-threatening bleeding. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vicki Richardson speaks about on the power of art
Artist and arts advocate Vicki Richardson talks about the power of art to inspire and challenge. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
DressCoders pairs tech with haute couture
DressCoders is a startup focused on haute couture garments. The company uses illuminated thread that is washable and can be sewn right into the fabric. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CES 2019: Brava infrared oven
In cooking with the Brava infrared oven,there’s no preheating. the bulbs can reach 500 degrees in less than a second. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sinks Merge Style And Utility
Study could determine cause of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s diseases
Dr. Aaron Ritter, director of clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, discusses his research on how inflammation in the brain impacts Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holocaust survivors talk about tragedy and friendship
Janos Strauss and Alexander Kuechel share their perspectives on life. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Siegel Cares' Santa delivers toys to kids at Siegel Suites in Las Vegas
Siegel Cares, the charitable wing of The Siegel Group, delivered toys to families at their apartment complexes in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Revisiting “Christ the King” sculpture
A longtime admirer of the sculpture at Christ the King Catholic Community in Las Vegas shares her perspective. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye)
Henderson couple adds another school to their generosity
Bob and Sandy Ellis of Henderson, who donate to several Clark County School District schools, have added Matt Kelly Elementary in Las Vegas to their list of schools where every student gets new shoes, socks and a toy. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Terry Fator Christmas House
Arguably better than a hotel holiday display, is Terry and Angie Fator's home located in southwest Las Vegas.
UNLV Winter Graduation Packs Thomas & Mack
UNLV's 55th winter commencement ceremony included approximately 2,146 undergraduate and graduate students who recently completed their studies. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Build-A-Bear comes to Reed Elementary School
Students participated in a Build-A-Bear-Workshop at Doris Reed Elementary School in Las Vegas, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018.
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the LVRJ
Rev. Father Seraphim Ramos talks about Greek Orthodox icons during an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal at St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center art depicts names of God
Masjid Ibrahim Islamic Center founder Sharaf Haseebullah talks about new diamond-shaped art panels featuring some of the 99 names of Allah at the main entrance the Las Vegas mosque. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Holiday poultry with Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine
Tim and Chemaine Jensen of Village Meat & Wine explain the different types of poultry available for the holidays. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Catholic Charities hosts early Christmas meal
Students from the Bishop Gorman High School football and cheerleader team helped to serve food at the Christmas meal sponsored by the Frank and Victoria Fertitta Foundation at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada on Sunday. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Incarcerated Christmas
This is the fourth year HOPE for Prisoners has worked with the Nevada Department of Corrections to create a Christmas for prisoners to visit their families. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
2018 Homeless Vigil
Straight From The Streets holds its 23rd annual vigil to remember the 179 homeless individuals who died in Clark County this year.
Getting through the Holiday blues
Psychologist Whitney Owens offers advice on keeping your mental health in check during the Holiday season in Henderson, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military
Operation Homefront Holiday Meals for Military program gave meal kits to 200 families at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10047 in Las Vegas Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018. It all started with a chance encounter in a supermarket in Utica, N.Y., near Fort Drum. A soldier, his wife and infant had a handful of grocery items they couldn't afford. A Beam Suntory employee picked up the $12 cost for the groceries. The program has grown from providing 500 meal kits to military families in 2009 to providing more than 7,000 nationally this holiday season.K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women
An elegant Tea Party for substance abuse and homeless women at WestCare Women Children Campus in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Former 51s manager Wally Backman chats about new job
Former Las Vegas 51s manager Wally Backman talks about his new job with the independent league Long Island Ducks during the Baseball Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 10, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside the kitchen at Springs Preserve
The staff of Divine Events do party preparation in the kitchen at Divine Cafe at Springs Preserve. With nine parties the following day, this is a particularly busy time for the crew. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Roy Choi on cooking for Park MGM employees
As he prepares to open his new restaurant Best Friend later this month at Park MGM, celebrity chef Roy Choi took the time to cook for the resort’s employees Tuesday. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best Friend Menu Reveal Wednesday
Chef Roy Choi tells us what to expect from Wednesday’s Facebook Live Menu Reveal for his new Park MGM restaurant Best Friend. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Great Santa Run
People participated in the 14th annual Las Vegas Great Santa Run which raises cubs for Opportunity Village.
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like