BY SUSAN ADCOX
Every grandparent needs a support group. I’m not talking about a group that meets in a church basement and drinks bad coffee. I’m talking about friends who share good times and bad and who even help each other be better grandparents.
My husband and I have been blessed with a special circle of friends. We try to play cards together once a week, but we also help each other out. The men in our group put their heads together when one of our vehicles is making a funny noise. The women deliver the baked goods when someone has a family crisis.
The family traditionally fills many of these functions, and our family members do when able. But distance and demanding careers mean that it’s not always possible.
We also support each other as grandparents. When we don’t fully grasp the parenting styles of our children, it’s good to have someone to vent to, and it’s often safer than confiding in a family member.
Grandparents can help each other in more practical ways, too. Consider these ideas:
- Share baby gear. When your grandchildren pass the toddler stage, you’ll probably want to get rid of high chairs and portable cribs. Why not give them to another grandparent?
- Share toys and games when your grandchildren outgrow them or lose interest.
- Go on outings together. It’s fun to organize a grandparent-grandchild outing, but be sure to have an appropriate ratio of adults to children. I love meeting the grandchildren of my friends.
- Serve as extra adults on your friends’ outings. Even if your own grandchildren are out of pocket, it’s nice to go with a friend on an outing with grandchildren, and an extra adult is always welcome.
- Share ideas. When you find something that the grandchildren enjoy, whether it’s a special recipe, toy or place to go, let your grandparent friends know about it.
Traditional support groups have their place, especially for those facing extra stress, such as estranged grandparents and grandparents raising grandchildren. But for the little stresses, and for fun times, too, a merry band of grandparents is hard to beat.
About Susan Adcox
Susan Adcox is the Grandparents Expert on About.com and the author of Stories From My Grandparent: A Heirloom Journal for Your Grandchild. A former teacher, she has seven grandchildren.