One of the greatest joys in life is becoming a grandparent. Many maturing men and women find greater satisfaction in their grandchildren and great-grandchildren than they did with their own children, only due to the fact that the pressures of parenthood weighed heavily upon them and made quality time scarce and difficult.
As we get older we fall upon the milestone of having grandchildren which is such a wonderful time in life. However, do you know that there are times we should be involved and other times to butt out? Here are a few practical tips to consider:
Be there when your grandchild is born-If at all possible, arrange with the parents to be there (inside or outside the delivery room) when your grandchild is born. Bonding with the baby from day one is a great way to build a strong three-generational family. Many grandparents say this experience is a monumental moment in their lives.
One-on-one time-Spend as much time alone with your grandchild as possible. With multiple grandchildren, give each their own time. Do not play favorites. This fundamental connection between you and your grandchild fully blossoms when the child has your undivided attention in a relaxed setting.
Be part of your grandchild’s life-Keep up to date with your grandchild’s day-to-day life. You don’t have to be present every day to have an everyday presence. Think about emails or just pick up the phone.
Remember birthdays, holidays and special moments-Send a special card or gift. If sending money is your choice and there are several children of different ages, it may be best to adjust the amount according to age.
Remember that “doing is better than having”-on regular visits, give the grandchildren fun things to do, rather than going to the mall and buying presents. Try to find unusual activities and adventures that will stick in their memory.
There are usually four grandparents-please do not compete with lavish gifts or visiting times. Work together.
Be a role model-it’s important that your grandchild see you use your wisdom and experience in a loving and caring way. A good relationship with your grandchild and his/her parents will set the stage for the time when they “move up” the generational ladder themselves.
Check first with the parents-Always check with the parents before making plans for visits and excursions. Remember they are the primary parents and you are just a “back-up.”
Long distance grandparenting can be rewarding too-everyone enjoys receiving mail, so send letters to your grandchild. Describe your feelings, hopes, dreams, and what you did when you were your grandchild’s age. Kids love this information. Other alternatives to letters are phone calls, recorded cassettes and videos, photographs, homemade gifts, and books that have been autographed by you.
Whether your contribution to your grandchildren is large or small; what you do is important. When a close, intimate grandparent/grandchild relationship has been formed, an attachment is often developed for life. With this attachment comes the experience of being loved and accepted, a sense of security and warmth, a historical sense of family, and the gift of a role model for the future.