a special feature from Leslie Zinberg & Kay Ziplow, founders grandparentslink.com
There are so many ideas out there as to what ‘grandparents’ should be — your role, your involvement. But we want to remind you: there are no hard-fast rules here, other than tried and true advice to share and be shared. Whatever you do, however you act, just be authentic, be real, be yourself and above all else, remember… you are pretty grand!
While grand parenting may be difficult due to distance, there are grandparents perhaps in a different situation, where their roles are a full-time commitment. Whatever may be the case, there’s a full spectrum of the many responsibilities assumed by grandparents. A good first step to a long and successful relationship with your grandchild is to establish some ground rules with your grandchildren’s parents. Here are some simple tips to think about….
Be clear about what role you want to have in your grandchild’s life. How often you want to babysit, for example, or whether you’d like to be included in events, such as school functions or sport activities.
Talk with parents about their rules. Consistency is important for kids, so know the behavior boundaries your grandchild has to follow at home and maintain the rules when he or she is with you.
Babyproof your home. It may have been a long time since you had a baby or child running around. Take a good solid look at your home and how it is set up so that when you have a little visitor (!), it’s a safe place.
Enforce any agreed upon punishment for bad behavior, whether it’s a ‘time out’ or loss of privileges, for example. Be mindful of the parents and their desires.
Common Grandparenting Pitfalls
Whatever your specific circumstances– whether it’s expressing love, showing concern for your grandchild’s safety and wellbeing, or simply being consistent in your behavior, it’s important that your children understand you want to do the best job possible of grand parenting. To avoid potential conflict within your family, here’s a few suggestions you should definitely avoid:
Trying to be the parent. As much as you might want to tell your children how to raise your grandkids, it’s not your role. Respect the parenting decisions your children make for your grandkids.
Buying your grandchild’s affection. Its tempting for grandparents to shower their grandkids with gifts, but check with the child’s parents before you buy more toys. Maybe substitute some of your gift giving with activities instead. Do something with your grandchild that you both will love — and build memories.
Overindulging the first few grandchildren and then not being able to repeat it as additional grandchildren come along. This can cause resentment from your own children who have kids later in life. Remember that whatever you do for your first grandchild (college fund, beach vacations, trips to the zoo) will set a precedent that you’ll want to repeat for every other grandchild.
Ignoring boundaries. A grandparent who does not enforce limits and gives in to their grandchild’s every whim can infuriate parents. By allowing your grandkids to misbehave, overindulge in candy and junk food, or ignore bedtimes, for example, you’re only encouraging unhealthy behavior and making their parents’ job even harder.
Making the most of your grandparenting time…
- Carve out one-on-one time. On occasion, spend time with individual grandchildren. It will give you an opportunity to bond, without competition, with one grandchild at a time.
- See the sights! Concerts, plays, movies, science centers and museums, parks, or walks in the neighborhood provide opportunities to be together and to exchange ideas and opinions.
- Play games. Board and card games are unique opportunities to watch kids in action and to see how they operate in the world. Games also allow you to help your grandchild learn to be a good sport and play fairly.
- Communicate family history. Tell stories about games or trips you shared when the grandchild’s parents were young. This is a great way to weave a ‘tapestry’ of shared experiences for the whole family.
- Cook or bake together — so unifying and rewarding.
- Tell stories about your own childhood, especially the embarrassing ones. The kids love to hear those stories!
For more on our wisdom and thoughts, enjoy other articles from us at: www.Grandparentslink.com:
Our article on “The Art of Saying No”: https://www.grandparentslink.com/the-art-of-saying-no/
Our back to school tips: https://www.grandparentslink.com/grandparenting-tips-back-to-school-time/
Our article with Lesley Stahl on becoming a grandmother! https://www.grandparentslink.com/lesley-stahl-on-grandparenting/
* Portions of article sourced from: www.helpguide.org/articles/grandparenting/how-to-be-a-better-grandparent