How to be a better grandparent

Being a grandparent brings special joy and equally specific challenges. It is often said that grandparenting means doing the fun stuff – the trips, ice creams, and “spoiling”. But in this day and age, where a wealth of information is only a click away, your child is bound to parent in a way that is very different to yours. How do you strike the balance between being an involved grandparent and getting in your child’s hair?

I hope these tips, which are written from my perspective as a mother and a daughter, will be helpful in creating more harmonious and meaningful family relationships.

1. Trust and respect your child and their partner, whether you agree with their particular parenting decisions or not. It can be all too tempting to jump in with all kinds of advice from the time they are contemplating how to get pregnant onward. But remember that your raised your child to be a confident and capable adult. Enjoy watching them use the tools you equipped them with, even if they don’t parent in the same way you did.
2. Your son or daughter is making the best decisions they can with the information that is available to them. With all the parenting books and online resources that are around today, information is simply more accessible now. If you, as the grandparent, would like to understand more about your child’s parenting philosophies, why not ask them to show you the books they love, and the websites they like to read?

3. Support your child and let them know that you are interested in their life. It is easy to move your adult child onto the second plane when there is a lovely, new baby in the picture. My relationship with my mother improved tremendously when we were both able to talk about current events, gardening, or other things that are not baby related. It’s nice to hear “How are you?” instead of “How is my grandbaby” sometimes too!

4. When I gave birth to my first daughter, my mother’s advice meant the world to me. Whether it’s pregnancy signs and symptoms your child is dealing with, breastfeeding trouble , or a newborn who just won’t go to sleep, nothing is quite as valuable as advice from one’s own mother. But still – only offering advice when it is requested, and having confidence that your child can work things out on her own will certainly mean a lot too!

5. Shopping for babies is wonderful, and if your first impulse is running out to the shops to buy all kinds of things after hearing your son or daughter is going to be a parent, you are not alone! They’ll be grateful if you ask what they need before buying. Nobody benefits from gifts that were not needed or wanted, especially the buyer.

Olivia blogs about fertility, pregnancy, and parenting at Trying To Conceive.