7 Tips for New and Expecting Grandparents*
- Set the stage for smooth relationships
Right from the get-go, many expecting parents experience tension of being torn between two, or even three or four sets of grandparents forcefully asserting their wishes. It’s a recipe for stress that soon-to-be moms and dads definitely don’t need.
As much as you can, stay positive, be flexible, and go with the flow. Focus on supporting the expecting parents rather than telling them what you want- they’ll appreciate it.
When it comes to visits, especially the all-important first visit to see the baby, be sensitive!
Finally, if you’re divorced from your adult child’s other parents, it’s a good time to fix any unmended fences. Like it or not, you’re going to be sharing grandparenting duties with your ex, as well as with his or her new spouse or partner if there is one. Don’t make an already sticky situation any more difficult.
- Listen and defer
No matter how many kids you raised, your adult child and his or her spouse or partner are now in charge of the childrearing. Be cautious about offering opinions or advice unless asked directly. And even then, tread lightly and express yourself gently.
Let the parents-to-be experiment- not every decision they make will stick.
And not everything they put out there needs to provoke a reaction, either. Sometimes they’re just thinking out loud. Allow them to grow in their roles as parents.
- Go easy on the shopping
With a new grandchild on the way, it’s temping to go on a shopping spree. But before you do, ask the parents-to-be what they need, what they don’t want, and whether there’s a baby registry or wish list you can consult before you buy anything.
- Don’t take their choices personally
They’re advocates of co-sleeping? Don’t want to circumcise? Want to name their boy Peach? Honestly, it’s not your problem. Yes, you may feel a tad embarrassed sharing your grandson’s new moniker with your friends, but you didn’t name him. Right? Just raise your eyebrows and report it with a smile.
- Let bonding happen naturally
Try to avoid specific expectations- they can be a recipe for disappointment. Instead, focus on getting to know your grandchild slowly and naturally.
- Follow their rules
You’re used to being the one in charge, but this time it’s your child’s turn. That can be disconcerting but you may find this role reversal refreshing as well. After all, with authority comes responsibility. Now it’s your turn to do what you’re told- and not worry about whether it’s the best way or not.
If your grandchild has a routine for naps and meals, make sure you maintain it, even if it means cutting an outing short.
If the parents say no solid foods yet and keep the TV off when the baby’s awake, respect their wishes. The same goes for their house rules: if they’re strict about recycling, don’t throw your water bottles in the trash.
And if the new parents aren’t always gracious when explaining their do’s and don’ts, or get snippy with you over something minor, try to keep your cool. Sleep deprivation-and the stresses of new parenthood are probably to blame.
- Give new parents a break
It’s easy to forget how overwhelming it is to be a new parent, and how hard it can be to accomplish the basics. This is where you can step in to save the day.
During visits, offer to take care of your grandbaby while the parents nap or get other things done. Ask if you can help by running errands, making meals, or cleaning up. Some new parents are reluctant to ask grandparents to help, so you may get better results if you just jump in and do what’s needed, like filling the dishwasher or making sandwiches.
*Article by Melanie Haiken, reprinted from: www.babycenter.com