Start Your Grandparenthood Here!
We are all told, “live your life to the fullest”; I am here to do just that. Grandparent Ideas serves as a vessel to unite all of us who have turned the page in our life book and find ourselves staring at the next chapter titled "Grandparenthood". Congratulations!
The pages are all blank in this chapter and only you have the ability to fill in the words. A good starting point is to first set some ground rules. So, sit back, relax, and read on.
The Golden Rules
1. Always Remember - You Are The Grandparent
You Are Not The Parent
It is not easy adjusting to the newest role in your life. Reflecting back on how your personal role status has evolved throughout your life; you were someone's child; you then went from a child to an adult; you then transitioned from a spouse or partner to a parent; and now you have been elevated from parent to grandparent! Once again, congratulations!
Each one of these roles created distinct perspectives and responsibilities. Being a grandparent is yet another distinct role. Yes, you may still retain many of these roles including being a child at heart. The one distinct role you are not is the parent to your grandchild. This is often confusing for some who have a hard time understanding the blurred line between parenthood and grandparenthood. Alex Haley summed up the definition of being a grandparent with the spirit in which grandparenthood deserves. "Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” — Alex Haley. That is your role now - to sprinkle stardust. Keep in mind it doesn't say to "pour" stardust over the lives of little children.
2. Offer Advice Only When Asked
Yes, bite your tongue
This rule is consistent with Golden Rule #1. You have "been there and done that" as a parent and your acquired wisdom should account for something, right? The answer is simply put - no. You are wrong if that is your current way of thinking.
Do you recall having someone tell you how to parent when you were in that role? If you were like me that type of unwanted counsel brought up a wave of emotions to include doubt, resentment, and sometimes anger. Avoid that type of response from your grandchild's parents. Instead, focus on taking a bit of a back seat or sitting on the sidelines. Remember your grandchild's parents are creating their own family unit and you are now part of their extended family. This is often a tough pill to swallow but it is honestly a great place to be! Remember you already did all the hard work in raising your own child or children. You can now take it easy and engage when asked. Be available, listen, and always remember - you are the grandparent, an entirely different role than parent!
3. Do Not Set Up A Nursery In Your Home
Don't Go Overboard!
Admittedly I trampled all over this golden rule. I had visions of taking care of my grandchild in a beautiful baby's room at our home, rocking him to sleep before laying him gently in his crib. Dream on grandma!! And dream away I did to my chagrin as I reflect back on my misstep. I turned a perfect and nicely designed guest room in to the baby's room in our home. The transformed guest room to nursery now had a crib, changing table, rocking chair, rocking horse, a baby mural on the wall - the whole works! Did I over do it? You betcha! In hindsight, I should have discussed this with my son and daughter-in-law first, which ashamedly I did not. Bless my sweet daughter-in-law's heart for not immediately running away from her crazy mother-in-law as quickly as she could! I would suggest talking this through first with your grandchild's parents before you take any drastic measures. Twenty months later the "baby's room" has now been converted in to a charming multipurpose room - a playroom for our grandson when he visits, a guest room, and an office! This is much more practical.
4. Avoid Going Overboard - Part Two
Yes You Are Excited, But Slow Down
You want to be part of your grandchild's life but one can go slightly overboard. Maybe you regret not being able to get some of the things for your own children and now with greater financial stability you can spoil your sweet grandchild. That is what grandparents are supposed to do - spoil their grandchildren, right? There is a "yes" and "no" answer to that question. Yes, grandparents can spoil their grandchildren and no they should not. Wait, what?! Have you ever heard the term - within reason? Collins Dictionary explains, "If you say that you will do anything within reason, you mean that you will do anything that is fair or reasonable and not too extreme."
Simply put, within reason means that you can call your grandchild's parents on occasion to check on your grandchild but not multiple times a day or even daily. Within reason means that you can pick up a cute adorable outfit for your sweet grandchild, but not ten outfits and not an outfit every week. Within reason means that you don't frequently show up unannounced to visit your adorable grandchild, instead you occasionally call ahead and ask if you can come by.
Avoid being too extreme or going overboard and you will create a loving, and stress-free relationship with your grandchild and his or her parents.
5. Ask Before You Act
Take A Breath
It is hard to tamper enthusiasm and who wants to live their life without passionately jumping in to everything you do? You know who wants you to take a pause before you act? The parents of your beloved grandchild, that is who. They may be exhausted. They probably have your grandchild on a strict schedule. They may want some time to themselves.
This Golden Grandparent Rule is simple - ask before you act. You should ask if it is a convenient time to swing by. You should ask if they need anything. You should ask if the baby needs anything. You should ask before you buy that large and expensive toy. Just ask.
Try to control your impulse to take action. You have raised a child and you know what it is like and have learned a great deal along the way. You want to impart this wisdom so the upbringing of your grandchild will be easier and will be better. Sharing this wisdom should be done in small doses and ask before sharing all your experience and knowledge. Just like you did, new parents have to create their own path together, without grandparent interference. Your relationship with your grandchild's parents and therefore your relationship with your grandchild will thrive with a little self restraint.
6. Do Not Try To Compete
You May Not Win Every Time
Do you have a competitive nature? When it comes to your grandchild you need to be careful about competing with others, including your grandchild's parents, and especially your grandchild's other set of grandparents. Be careful about trying to get the better present, the bigger gift, the most toys, more visits, etc. Keeping score will only lead to disappointment on your side of the scoreboard and resentment on the other side. Also, think about your grandchild. He or she should not have to pick sides in a game that only you have created and are playing.
7. Respect The Parent's Wishes
They Are In Charge
Remember the old adage - "because I said so!" It will serve you well to keep that in mind, not from your perspective but from your grandchild's parents perspective. Your grandchild's parents have 100% authority to raise your grandchild as they wish, as long as it is safe to do so - because they said so! If they want to name your grandchild a name you dislike or the baby isn't named after sweet aunt Gertrude, they can. If they do not want to give your grandchild sugar, that is their prerogative. If they want to talk through your grandchild's mistakes instead of more direct discipline, they can. If they want to split up family holidays because it is too much stress on the baby (and the parents), they can. As a wise bunny once said (Thumper in the movie Bambi), "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."