Few things in this world are as wonderful as becoming a grandparent. However, it can be very difficult to know exactly where the boundaries lie, and what you should and shouldn’t offer.
Here are some helpful tips on how to adjust to this exciting new role. Are you a new grandparent? Stop by our comments section below, and tell us: what advice has helped you the most?
Hold off on life-altering lifestyle changes
Many soon-to-be grandparents will want to move closer to family; some will even quit their jobs to become more available. However, until the child is born, the parents might not have a clear idea of what help they need or want. Hold back until you have a clearer picture.
Resolve any tensions you can
While this is the most complicated and difficult step for a new grandparent, it can also be the most important. If there are any family politics, conflicts or even simple misgivings within the family, now is the time – if at all possible – to resolve them.
A child will make current family arrangements decidedly more permanent. If you have reservations about your child’s partner, now is the time to set them aside. If you are separated from your child’s parent, do what you can to make communication easier. Like it or not, you will be seeing a lot of these people; make it as easy as you can.
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Accept that you might hate the name
Naming standards aren’t going downhill; they simply change and cycle over time – always have, always will. The Baby Name Wizard gives a solid reason for this:
“The names of your own generation sound too ordinary, your parents’ to boring, your grandparents’ too old. But by the time you make it back to your great-grandparents’ names, things start to perk up. (Your child has) never known a young Vivian or Julius, so those names sound fresh”.
You and your child are simply on different points in this cycle. But if it’s any consolation, they probably won’t be keen on your great-grandchildren’s names either.
Support the parents’ decisions
No decision to a new parent is going to come lightly. They may be subtly different to what you would have chosen. They may be – just between us – absolutely atrocious. But it’s vital to take a supportive role, helping them make the most of their decisions.
Like every parent, they’ll need to learn for themselves and make their own mistakes. To be told point-blank that they’re wrong is a tension they simply won’t have any room accept or process.
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Remember that you’ll have plenty of chances to build up a meaningful relationship with your grandchild. The better you can support the parents today, the your position to be a part of their lives tomorrow.
Be prepared to share
One of the strangest ideas to adjust to is the idea that you’re “sharing” a grandchild; that there may be other grandparents equally keen – and equally titled – to see this new generation grow up and carry on their legacy.
This is a great opportunity to connect with the other grandparents, coordinating visits, gifts and support to ensure the parents aren’t overwhelmed.
Balance support against trust
Sometimes visiting too often can send the wrong message –even subconsciously – that they can’t raise a child for themselves. Communicate openly with your child to ensure you aren’t overstepping your bounds.
Be a safety net for the parents; those who can step in to help when they aren’t feeling in control.
Keep a close eye on the mother’s health
As a grandparent, you could be in an ideal position to spot what those in the thick of it might not identify. Learn the signs of post-natal depression and keep a close eye on both parents, should anything go beyond the standard “baby blues”.
Are you new grandparent (or expecting to become one)? What advice would you offer?