The dos and don’ts for first time grandparents

Sep 10, 2019
Being a grandparent is one of the most rewarding jobs in life. Source: Getty

There’s nothing like becoming a grandparent for the first time and for many, embracing the new and unique role is one of the most rewarding jobs in life. However, it can also be very tricky to know exactly where the boundaries lie and what you should and shouldn’t offer. So here are a few dos and don’ts to help you adjust into your new exciting role!

Don’t play favourites

We all know that grandparents aren’t supposed to play favourites, but favouritism is an alarmingly common problem. In fact, a 2018 Gransnet survey, done in partnership with Mumsnet, found that 42 per cent of users confessed to having a preferred grandchild. Showing favouritism to one child can be hurtful to the others, so it’s important to always be as fair as possible when it comes to spending time with grandchildren or spoiling them.

Spend one-on-one time with grandchildren

Spending one-on-one time with each individual grandchild is a great way to form a strong and loving connection. From baking sweet treats in the kitchen to helping the grandkids get their hands dirty in the garden, fun activities will help you create meaningful memories together. Little kids most of the time can’t grasp that technology and the world weren’t always exactly how they are now so tales of when you were a kid, as well as tales about the family’s history, can also be an exciting one-on-one activity.

Know your boundaries

When it comes to parenting, there’s no denying that things have changed – and there will probably be times that you don’t agree with the way your children are bringing up their kids, whether it’s what they eat or what time they go to bed. However, according to Ruth Nemzoff, the author of Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children, parents are in charge when it comes to their children, so in most cases, grandparents should defer to them even if their parenting approach is different.

However, parents are usually unlikely to have a problem with how you discipline their child if you’re using their methods, especially if their child’s safety is at risk, and if you’re lucky you’ll also have similar values. After all, you raised them!

Be supportive

Having a baby can be magical, but it can also be extremely overwhelming for the new parents, especially if they don’t have your support. During visits, offer to watch your grandchild for a few hours so the parents can catch up on much-needed sleep or get other things done.

Leaving the house with a newborn is stressful, so why not ask if you can help by running errands, making meals or cleaning up.  However, it’s important to note that 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.

Love them unconditionally

Of course, there is no 100 per cent tried and true method for being a perfect grandparent and every situation is going to be different. The best advice is to enjoy the time that you have with the grandkids. Your time with them is going to be something that they treasure for a lifetime just like you treasure the memories of yours.

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