10 Grandparents You Won't Believe Exist
How to Be Good Grandparents
Being a good grandparent is not all about the gifts and chocolate. It's about the quality time and fun activities too. By following these tips, you will learn to be good grandparents, a most rewarding and worthwhile relationship.
Understanding your importance
Be fully aware that your role as a grandparent matters.You are a source of wisdom, experience and patience. You may also be a source of childcare, either regularly or occasionally. You can help relieve ever-busy parents of the childcare when they need respite. But most of all, you get to have fun and enjoy the next generation, to watch them grow and know that you play a key part in their development.
Try to deal with the transition to being a grandparent gracefully.Admittedly, some people aren't as fond of being a grandparent as others, as they're concerned that they are viewed as "old" when they have grandchildren or that they're just assumed to be caretakers when they'd rather be free of any responsibilities. In the first case, age is a matter of how you feel––you're only old when you let yourself feel that way. Indeed, grandchildren can help you to stay fit and quick witted, just because you need to keep up with them. As for freedom, that's something you need to work out for yourself and talk openly with your children about. If you really dislike having the grandchildren come to stay or you find they're spending too much time with you, talk to your children and explain what your boundaries are. It's your choice and they have to respect your decision.
Realize what you'll get out of the grandparenting experience.Grandchildren are a joy because you get all the fun but very little of the longer-term responsibility. Sure, you're responsible for them when you're babysitting them but if they get too much, you are able to hand them back. Moreover, unless you're standing in for the parents, you don't need to make the challenging decisions about schooling, after-school activities, health care, and such. You can advise and support but ultimately, you are much less responsible so it can free you up to enjoy watching your grandchildren grow up, and witness all the good things.
Deciding how involved you'll be as a grandparent
Decide what you wish to be called.For some people, it is the grandchildren who come up with a name, while for others, they have a name already clearly determined that they wish to be known by. There are common names such as Gran, Granny, Grandad, Grandpa`, Grandma/Grandma, Nanny, Nan, Gammy, and so forth but you may also prefer your own real name or some other name you've made up. Decide in advance and make your preferences known.
- Family tradition may dictate how you are referred to. If you're okay with this, that's great. If not, you may need to have a family discussion over what you'd rather be called.
Decide the ways in which you want to be of help as a grandparent.As already discussed above, this is something that you must determine. If you don't want to be the 5-day a week childcare stopgap, make this absolutely clear from the outset. On the other hand, if that's something you really want, say so. Consider the following when deciding how you'll help out with raising your grandchildren:
- How active a carer do you wish to be? Do you want to take on full-time or part-time regular care to allow your children to keep working?
- Are you close enough geographically to be of actual help? If not, how do you plan to connect with the grandchildren regularly?
- Can you be of help with the more challenging tasks, such as helping with mealtimes, bedtimes, etc. when the grandchildren are newborn and very young? By assisting with the more challenging parts, you can give your children a much-needed break.
- Consider vacation times. Are you willing to have the grandchildren stay with you? Do you wish to travel with them?
- How is your health and how easily do you fatigue? These are really important considerations when determining how much help you'll give toward raising your grandchildren.
- Consider your finances. Are you willing to help finance aspects of your grandchildren's upbringing (such as school fees, after-school activities, etc.) or is this absolutely against your wishes or abilities? If you do decide to help out financially, how will you draw the boundaries on this help with your children?
Let go of any need to parent your grandchildren.Not only do they have parents to do this for them, but this is whereyourfreedom comes in. You can advise your children as to things you think need attending to but you don't need to parent the grandchildren directly. Moreover, always see yourself as a helping hand, not as someone taking over. New parents, especially new moms, can feel criticized or trampled on if a grandparent takes over control of raising baby and dictates how things ought to be done. Remember that you're not in charge and that you must defer to the new parent's wishes.
- Realize that times have moved on since you parented young children, at least two decades and maybe more. A lot changes in a few decades, including the wisdom on parenting. Do not try to interfere or boss the new parents around with old parenting advice. Some modern parenting advice is based on scientific studies about safety, that has overruled unsafe older practices. Unless you've done the latest research, do not presume old parenting habits are accurate.
- Learn to send grandchildren back to their parents for permission, when they're present. If your grandchild insists on another cookie or to go to bed later and tries to use you as the decision-maker, help the child to learn that it's not your place to override the parents. Simply say something like: "If your mommy or daddy thinks you can have another cookie/go to bed later, then it'll be okay. But you will have to ask them first."
Spending time with your grandchildren
Build a good relationship with your grandchildren.There are no instructions as to what to do and what not to do, other than to rely on your experience and the things you've already learned raising your own children. The most important focus is to build a strong, caring and loving relationship with your grandchildren, so that they know you can be relied upon and that you're there for them in a non-judgmental and supportive capacity.
Be careful not to over-spoil your grandchildren.A little spoiling is natural, but too much can cause grandchildren to view you as a pushover or as a source of funds or goodies without end. Give them the odd treat that you know the parents won't be offering but don't overdo it.
- Ask permission from their parents before taking your grandchildren someplace or buying them large, expensive presents.
Try your level best to not play favorites.Once you have more than one grandchild, it can be tempting to have a favorite or two. Do not think that this goes unnoticed though––children are very perceptive and will pick up on it quickly. Avoid doing this, and keep your preference for any one child under wraps. Treat all of the grandchildren the same, giving them equal love and affection. Over time, it may be that when the children are older some of them visit you more than others, but by then they'll have made their own choices and you can make it clearer that you are supportive of the children who continue to connect with you.
- If playing favorites is part of a family feud, try to avoid this. The children aren't at fault for the sins of the parents or grandparents. All you're teaching them is to be disruptive and disrespectful, not how to be kith and kin.
Allow your love, patience and more philosophical attitude to life that comes with being older to guide your grandchildren wisely.Not being the parent gives you so much more leeway to be the kind, gentle and thoughtful influence in your children's lives. Cherish the time you spend with your grandchildren, even the lows, as these moments will make precious memories for each of you to look back on.
Let your grandchildren know that you're always there for them.This includes doing your best to avoid being judgmental. While you're two generations before them, and things were done in certain ways in your day, realize that times always move on and how your grandchildren see the world is likely to be somewhat different from how you see it. This is how life has always been and ever will be––as the older and wiser one, aim to see things from their perspective as much as your own and understand that they only see what is around them as the standard, not what you once grew up in.
- Avoid saying things such as "in my day we'd behave ourselves and not expect anything like what you get" and other such negative remarks. Instead, aim to explain to them how things were different when you grew up and how you feel that has an impact on today's world. Use it as a way to examine history and change, not as a way to pass judgment on the child's actions or thinking. Otherwise, your grandchildren will simply switch off and consider you stuck in the olden days and ways.
- Avoid being mean or unsupportive. This will only cause the grandchildren to not tell you things in future and may even cause them to stay away, which they can do as they're not your children.
- Be supportive of their choices. They don't need to feel stupid or bullied by their own family. If they make choices that you really cannot connect with, explore your own reasons for being uncomfortable or unwilling to understand, and try to reach a compromise or at least an understanding.
Do some activities outdoors together.Go to a park, the zoo, a craft place, a toy shop, shopping, show, marketplace, etc. Getting your grandchildren outdoors and taking them to places builds fitness, memories and camaraderie. Be the adventurous grandparent and thrill them every time they visit.
- Realize that when taking small children to museums and educational places because, they may not understand much about these places. However, they will gain a subconscious appreciation for them, so don't feel that such educational visits are wasted. It's all going toward forming their deeper understanding of the world.
Give gifts that the grandchildren will appreciate.Try giving them fun and educational things. You can give them gifts from your holidays, seasonal gifts, birthday gifts, and "just because" gifts.
- Remember not to overload on the gifts, however; a good bond is all about quality time.
- Treat all grandchildren the same.
- Tell them you love them but give them space.
- Make sure there is something for them to do as they hate being stuck in bored.
- Be cheerful, helpful and avoid taking sides.
- Respect their parent's views and do not just presume the parents will agree to everything you want to do for your grandchildren. Ask the parents first, not just your own child but also ask your in- law.
- If your grandchildren are in their teens, speak to them like an adult. There's nothing they hate more than being treated like a baby.
- Broach the topic of finances if you're caring for grandchildren and you don't have much money. Ask the parents for help with finances to cover food, outings and some of your time. It may feel hard but this isn't something you should end up feeling stretched about. If you don't deal with it, your resentment may surface and cause bad feelings all around. Better to have it in the open than to seethe about being taken for granted and unacknowledged.
- Do not tell the parents that they are doing things wrongly or that they're messing things up with the grandchildren––when it gets to this level of advice, it's likely that you're projecting your own angst rather than helping them. You cannot right the wrongs you felt you created during your parenting by bossing about your children in an attempt to get it right. Instead, aim to right things by being a good grandparent who is supportive and respectful of the parent's choices. The only exception is where you are aware that there is domestic violence––in this case, seek external assistance to intervene.
- Make your priorities clear with the parents. If they have differing expectations from you, this can cause problems. Let the parents know when you're available for childcare and when you're not. That way, there won't be any misunderstandings.
Video: 6 Important Principles for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren | Grandparenting Tips
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