We grandparents are always looking for ways to be a better grandparent, so we asked our friends at Helpguide.org to share some of their wisdom with us.
A good first step to a long and successful relationship with your grandchild is to establish some ground rules with the parents.
Be clear about what role you want to have in your grandchild’s life. How often you want to babysit, for example, or whether you’d like to be included in events such as school functions.
- Talk with parents about their rules. Consistency is important for kids, so know the behavior limits your grandchild has to follow at home and maintain the rules when he or she is with you.
- Enforce any agreed upon punishment for bad behavior, whether it’s a “time out” or loss of privileges, for example.
- Baby proof your home, to ensure safety for infants and toddlers. It’s important to check with your grandchild’s parents about ways to baby proof your home to ensure they’re comfortable leaving the child with you.
Grandparenting pitfalls to avoid
To avoid potential conflict within your family, try to avoid these common pitfalls:
- Trying to be the parent. As much as you might want to tell your children how to raise your grandkids, it’s not your role. Respect the parenting decisions your children make for your grandkids.
- Buying your grandkids’ affection. It’s tempting for grandparents to shower their grandkids with gifts, but check with the child’s parents before you buy more toys. Maybe substitute some of your gift giving with activities instead. Do something with your grandchild that you both love and will build memories.
- Overindulging the first few grandchildren and then not being able to repeat it as additional grandchildren come along. This can cause resentment from your own children who have kids later in life. Remember that whatever you do for your first grandchild (college fund, beach vacations, trips to the zoo) will set a precedent that you’ll need to repeat for every other grandchild.
- Ignoring boundaries. A grandparent who won’t enforce limits and gives in to their grandchild’s every whim can infuriate parents. By allowing your grandkids to misbehave, overindulge in candy and junk food, or ignore bedtimes, for example, you’re only encouraging unhealthy behavior and making their parents’ job even harder.
Making the most of your time
- Carve out one-on-one time. On occasion, spend time with individual grandchildren. It will give you an opportunity to bond, without competition, with one grandchild at a time.
- See the sights. Concerts and plays, movies, science centers and museums, parks or walks in the neighborhood provide opportunities to be together and to exchange ideas and opinions.
- Play games. Board and card games are a unique opportunity to watch kids in action and to see how they operate in the world. Games also allow you to help your grandchild learn to be a good sport and play fairly.
- Communicate family history. Tell stories about games or trips you shared when the grandchild’s parents were young. This is a great way to weave a ‘tapestry’ of shared experiences for the whole family.
This article reprinted with permission by our frends at Helpguide.org. They have a professional team to help you and your family find answers you can trust that will strengthen your emotional heath, improve your relationships, and help you take charge of your life.
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