Being a grandparent is a pretty good gig. You get almost all the same benefits as parents without the responsibility of raising the child, which is great because you’ve already “been there and done that.” However, the role of a grandparent can also be a little tricky, so here are a few dos and don’ts that may help you navigate your role as a grandparent.
1. Do be gracious after babies are born.
It’s a very exciting time when grand babies are born. However, that excitement is also mixed without a lot of fear and stress for the new mom and dad. This is a time for grandparents to be gracious and helpful in whatever ways they can be. There’s a good chance the new parents are freaking out a little bit, so don’t take it personally if they seem uptight or don’t want to take your advice. Give them time to adjust – they’ll lighten up when they’re not so sleep deprived and worried.
2. Don’t play favorites.
This isn’t a problem with most families, but some grandparents do play favorites and treat one or more grandchildren better than the other grandchildren. This is unwise and unfair and could drive a wedge between the grandchildren (the ones who are being treated unfairly) and the grandparents.
3. Do show up when you can.
My children love when their grandparents make special trips to see them for birthdays, soccer games, or other special occasions. It makes them feel valued, loved, and supported, even if they only make it up for one game of the season.
4. Do spoil grandchildren but don’t overdo it.
Yes, spoiling is part of the grandparent package, but don’t overdo it. A few small gifts or one big gift is fine, but don’t be like my friend’s mom who buys each of her grandchildren 25 gifts for Christmas. That’s overdoing it.
5. Do spend one-on-one time with grandchildren.
Spending one-on-one time with each individual grandchild is a great way to make each grandchild feel special. I have great childhood memories of running around my grandparents’ farm and swinging on their front porch swing, and I’m thankful that they took the opportunity to spend that one-on-one time with me.
6. Don’t undermine the parents.
If you babysit your grandchildren, be careful not to undermine the parents and their rules for their children. Often grandparents tell the parents: “My house, my rules” or “What happens at Grammie’s house stays at Grammie’s house,” and then they wonder why the parents are reluctant to let them babysit their children. Be respectful of the parents’ rules, even when you don’t agree with them.
7. Don’t forget birthdays.
Write all your grandkids’ birthdays on the calendar and make it a point to send them a card or gift. When I was growing up I always loved receiving birthday cards from my grandparents – and not just because they had money inside. It meant a lot to me that they remembered and cared enough to send me a card.
8. Do put their safety first.
Admittedly, parents today take more safety precautions than their parents did. There are a lot of new rules – like no blankets in the crib or babies being put down in their crib on their backs rather than on their bellies. Please keep these rules even if they seem dumb to you – out of respect for their parents and also just out of precaution.
9. Don’t let them get away with everything.
As a grandparent it’s easy to look the other way sometimes and let grandkids get away with things that they shouldn’t, but it’s important that grandkids learn to respect and obey their grandparents just as much as their parents, so be careful not to let them get away with too much or they may get in a habit of walking all over you.
10. Do love them like only a grandparent can.
Grandparents play a special role in their grandkids’ lives, so never stop investing in your grandchildren and always keep loving them like only a grandparent can.