For many people, grandparenting is one of the greatest joys in life. Watching those adorable babies grow and discover the world can be a fulfilling, life-affirming experience.
At the same time, grandparenting is an acquired skill for most people. Like any new situation, it can take some time to strike the right balance and fill the role effectively for many first-time grandparents.
There’s no comprehensive manual to the art of grandparenting. However, there are some things you can do to maintain a healthy, involved relationship with your grandchildren and their parents.
Not every grandparent has the luxury of living down the street from the grandchildren. In long-distance situations, it’s critical to keep in contact with your grandchildren and their parents through phone and social media. Senior-friendly cell phone providers, like Lively Direct, will help you stay connected with distant grandchildren, whether communication comes in the form of casual text conversations or more traditional phone calls.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, even some grandparents who live close to their grandchildren must rely on these avenues to stay in contact.
You want the best for your child and their family, especially once your kids start having little ones of their own. It’s natural to want to give advice when your children seem to be struggling. However, you might want to reign in the urge to overload new parents with information.
While you may mean well, new parents often take unsolicited advice as a hint that they don’t know what they’re doing. So unless your spring chickens specifically ask for your help, don’t be a mother hen.
It’s tempting to splurge on every cute baby item you see in the store. It’s acceptable to buy gifts for special occasions, but, in general, you should put your credit card back in your wallet. New parents receive many gifts already, and chances are, they’re already running out of room for all the baby paraphernalia. What’s more, you don’t want to step on any toes regarding toys the parents have already vetoed.
The most important thing you can do for your grandbaby’s new parents? Listen to them. Your grandchild’s parents will let you know when and how they need your help. Sometimes, what your children need most is just a sympathetic ear from someone who’s done it all before.
No one wants to be the overbearing grandparent. It’s imperative to follow the rules and guidelines set forth by the parents. You had your chance to bring up children the way you saw fit. Now it’s your children’s turn to take the child-rearing reins.
While it’s essential to follow the parents’ lead on all things involving their children, there will also be ample opportunity for you to offer assistance. If it’s possible, be there to help when the parents request it. Spending time with your grandchildren will allow you to develop deep bonds with them, and it might even level up your relationship with the parents.
While it’s important to help out with the grandkids when you can, you also need to set healthy boundaries. If you get burnt out, you won’t be much good to anyone, least of all your grandchild.
Decide upfront what is an appropriate amount of your time and energy to spend caring for your grandchildren, and then share your thoughts with the child’s parents.
There may be emergencies in which you decide to bend these rules. That’s okay, but the key here is that it should be your decision.
Having grandchildren can be a fantastic experience. Just make sure you remember the appropriate role you should play in the life of your grandchildren, and always respect the parents’ wishes.