What do parents want grandparents to know?
What do parents want from grandparents? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not baby clothes or fancy toys.
Here’s what parents DO want:
They want someone who is excited to cuddle and love their little one, who will be the head of the baby’s fan club.
They want someone who will celebrate all the milestones and easily move past the missteps their child makes as they grow up.
They want someone to pass on family stories and traditions.
They want someone who will help fill their child’s life with adventures and memories.
But most of all, parents want you to be partners as they raise their children.
They want their children to have supportive, involved grandparents. They want to know they can count on you for help or guidance when either parent or grandchild needs it. They want to know that if they talk to you about something, you’ll be open to listening and helping them. They want you to see and respect boundaries. They want to know that you understand how hard parenting a child in the digital age is, and that social media gives them more than enough unsolicited advice.
There are other things they want, and these vary wildly. Some parents want grandparents to only buy organic cotton baby clothes. Some want to keep their child away from the television news. Some want to make sure dinner is at 5:30 sharp every single day. These are the things that can be pitfalls for grandparents if we don’t know and respect them.
In our enthusiasm about being a grandparent, it can be easy to make mistakes. We may overstep our bounds, dismiss a request that seems unimportant, or rationalize something we really want to do. Our children, who even as adults still want to be loved by us, may not say anything that might rock the boat. If our missteps continue, they may pull away without us knowing why, and pull the grandchildren with them. And we are left to guess where we went wrong.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to guess? If we knew what to ask to avoid potential pitfalls, right from the beginning? As one of my readers wrote to me recently, “Being so new at this, I don’t know what I don’t know.”
What if I told you that this is exactly what we’ve been hard at work creating? A way for you to map a path to an open, supportive partnership with parents that will allow you to be the grandparent you want to be, and the grandparent they hope you’ll be, as well. It’s coming soon, and we can’t wait to share it with you.
In the meantime, download our free New Grandparent Checklist for some great tips for all grandparents!
A fun activity to send to your grandkids.
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What better way to celebrate spring than a virtual trip to spring training? For baseball fans, nothing equals seeing your favorite teams in a more relaxed setting. Spring training reminds us that the sport of baseball is actually just a game, best played for the fun of it. And since children and fun go hand-in-hand, baseball makes a great theme for a package to send the grandkids!
For my young grands, who come from a family sadly lacking in sports fervor, baseball is an untapped subject. This meant I needed to not just send them a bat and ball, but to find a way to share the game itself. This took a little creative thinking, but here’s what I came up with:
First, something to wear to get into character. I resisted my urge to outfit them with Dodgers caps, being afraid that labeling them as LA fans would be problematic in their southern state. Of course, it also saved me money to choose generic baseball caps! I got these for the older two, and this darling one for the one-year-old. She loved it, as you can see from the picture!
They loved this ball and bat set from Franklin Sports. I considered a tee as well, but my son just stuck a piece of PVC pipe in the ground and that worked just fine. Check out the video on my Facebook page!
Next books, of course! Let's Play Baseball is a lift-the flap book that introduces baseball words and concepts. Like too many board books, the subject matter is not geared towards babies, but she loves the flaps. Since my grands have no familiarity with the sport, I sent My Baseball Book, which explains how the game is played with easy to understand terms and colorful pictures.
If you’ve already got a baseball fan, or your grands are a bit older, you might like Baseball for Kids: A Young Fan's Guide to the History of the Game, which includes an engaging history and biographies of some of the greatest players. And finally, I added Randy Riley's Really Big Hit by Chris Van Dusen. I liked the message of this charming story about a boy genius who loves baseball. Though he’s not very good at the game, his knowledge of baseball helps him save the day when there is a giant fireball headed at the earth.
The baseball cards I added as an afterthought turned out to be the biggest hit with the older two. They spent hours studying, sorting and trading them, despite being unable to read and having no idea who any of the player were. I really wanted to include Cracker Jack, but skipped it out of respect for the parents who would have to deal with the sugar high. That will have to wait for a real trip to the ballpark someday--hopefully to Dodger Stadium!
More Inspirational Books for Grandparents
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What Keeps Me Standing: Letters from Black Grandmothers on Peace, Hope and Inspiration by Dennis Kimbro
Over a period of five years, Dennis Kimbro contacted one thousand grandmothers--women from a wide range of backgrounds and locations--asking, "If you had to write a one page letter to your children or the next generation, what would you tell them about life?" ~From the publisher
At the very least, Kimbro’s collection of letters from Black grandmothers will captivate you. The lessons these women want to share with their grandchildren, the wisdom they have gathered through their struggles and triumphs, the love and support they offer through the words they write—all prove the importance of grandparents in a child’s life. At the very best, you’ll be motivated to write a letter to your own grandchildren. The inspirational letters in Kimbro’s book show the value of putting your heart on paper. Order a copy today.
Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother by Barbara Graham
Barbara Graham shares 27 essays that explore the writers' roles as grandmother. You'll recognize the joy and pain described in each chapter, and realize how many ways “being a grandmother” can be done. The essays examine the secrets of what makes the role of grandparent so special, giving insight into both the complexities of the relationship with our children, and the simplicity of the relationship with our grandchildren. Order a copy today.
Tips for supporting new parents with love and encouragement
When I wrote last week about the importance of showing your love for your grandchildren’s parents, I had a reader ask for specific ideas, especially for those of us at a distance. This week, I want to share some of those ideas!
1. Offer to help out—the right way.
Don’t just say, “Let me know if I can help.” Very few people will ever take you up on such an offer, and your own children are often less likely to do so. Rather, suggest specific ways you could help. Of course, this can be tricky, because there is always the risk that your offer will be translated as a criticism. If you were to say, “I’d love to pay for a housecleaning service”, there is every chance that what your daughter-in-law will hear is “You are a terrible housekeeper.”
Instead, try saying something like this: “I’d love to do something to help lighten your load. Would you be interested in some help with laundry, or housekeeping, or maybe a meal service?” Or “I remember how hard it is to have any time to yourself and I’d love to do something to help you. Can I pay for a sitter/watch the baby so you can go get a massage?”
There are more ways to help new parents in this post, but make sure your offer to help is presented in a judgement-free way. “I stumbled on an article about family sleep consultants. Did you know they existed? Look into it and see if it’s something that might interest you—I’d be happy to help cover the cost. I wish I’d know about them when I had little ones!” This is more likely to succeed than, “It must be hard (judgement alert!) to have Harvey still waking up so much at night. Let me hire a sleep consultant to get him sorted out.”