New parents aren’t the only ones with worries about this new adventure!
Do you remember finding out you were going to be a grandparent? For most of us, it was a thrilling moment! The excitement of having a little one to cuddle and love, the anticipation of watching this new little person learn and grow! The adventures you’ll have and the memories you’ll make! The visions of the family stories and traditions you’ll hand down!
Does any of that sound familiar? Most of us start daydreaming (and shopping!) long before the baby arrives. For many of us, though, there are also worries:
These are the things that keep us awake at 3am. The things we talk about with our closest friends. The things we spend time searching for on the internet.
These are the things that we try to help you with at More Than Grand.
If you are one of the rare grandparents who doesn’t have some sort of worry about how to be the best grandparent possible, please share your secret with the rest of us! But if you wish there were a way to ease some of your fears, you may be in luck. When our new course launches next week, it will address the most common worries grandparents have and provide tools to allay them. You’ll be able to create a plan that will help you sleep at night and go back to solving world peace with your closest friends.
Want to know more? Make sure you are on our email list so you get all the details!
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. The waiting list is open now--just click here to be added.
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.”
Author Richard Eyre give us a handbook for every grandfather.
This post contains affiliate links.
Looking for books for a new grandmother to help her embrace her new role? There are several great choices. Looking for books for a new grandfather? Not so easy! So far, I’ve only found one: Being a Proactive Grandfather by Richard Eyre.
Luckily, it’s all any grandfather really needs. Eyre, as a grandfather to roughly 30 grandchildren, has enough experience to know what works. He shares his creative and practical ideas in a way that makes you wish you could get started right away. While some of his methods will be difficult for long-distance grandfathers or those who are still actively working, the concepts behind them will inspire every grandfather who is committed to a real relationship with their grandchildren.
Eyre sums it up here:
"Passive grandfathering—just paying a little attention once in a while or trying to lend a bit of financial support as needed—is not much fun. The thing that often holds us back from greater involvement with our grandkids is that, in some ways, they lie a bit outside our comfort zones. We don’t know exactly what they need or how to go about Proactive Grandfathering."
Being a Proactive Grandfather is an excellent guide for those grandfathers who don’t know how to get outside their comfort zone, or for those who want more ideas to help shape their role as Grandpa. This one is worth buying for every grandfather!
As an Amazon affiliate, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping to keep this site ad-free.
Why we need to change the way we talk about loving our grandchildren
“Spoil them and send them home!”
How many times have you heard grandparents use that phrase? It’s on coffee mugs and T-shirts and memes all over the internet. Perhaps you’ve even said it! After all, one of the benefits of having grandchildren is that you aren’t in charge of all the hard parts of raising them. There is a gleeful freedom in knowing that you can concentrate on having fun with them without having to deal with the consequences.
During a recent conversation about “Grandparent Love” on the podcast, The Grand Life, I talked with Emily Morgan and Kerry Byrne about the idea of spoiling our grandchildren. We all agreed the phrase needs to go!
First, let’s just look at the word spoil. Can you think of anything else we would declare we want to spoil? We don’t set out to spoil our children, or our vacation, or our new carpet. No one wants to be around someone who spoils the ending, the mood or the surprise. We don’t like it when someone spoils a joke, or our view, or an important occasion. Spoiling something is not an admirable goal! The definition of the word is very clear:
Obviously, we don’t really mean we want to diminish or harm our grandchildren. We mean we want to indulge them, pamper them, treat them like the special little people they are. This leads to my second objection to the idea of spoiling our grands and then sending them home: I don’t want to make my kids’ job as parents any harder than it already is. While we all want our grandkids to know how much we love them, there are ways to show them that without overindulging them or being more lenient than their parents.
What your grandchildren want most from you is your time and attention, and you can make them feel cherished without spoiling them at all. Instead of buying them more toys, play with them. Instead of sneaking them extra cookies, let them help you make dinner. Talk to them, send them mail, ask them about their likes and dislikes, give them your undivided attention, be there for them. You’ll find it far more rewarding than spoiling them.
What do you think? Is there a case to be made for spoiling grandchildren?
Creating a bond now will help you connect to teenage grandchildren later.
Do you remember that feeling when you first held your grandchild? That physical rush of connection with this baby that you were just handed?
My oldest grandson is 4. Yet I first felt that rush of emotion 14 years ago, when I held my niece JP.
She wasn’t my first niece or nephew—not by a long shot—but she was my youngest sister’s first child. That sister was born when I was 15, and she was very much my first baby. So when her child was placed in my arms, it felt like a miracle. I felt an instant connection that I hadn’t felt with any of my other siblings’ children. And though I’m incredibly fond of all of my nieces and nephews, there is still something special about JP.
Now JP is 14, and we don’t see each other often. But she’s recently gotten an Instagram account, and I can see what she is doing and thinking regularly. And I can see, that as a teenager, she still needs adults in her life to help her process the world. Her parents are doing a great job of guiding her, but it’s going to get harder and harder for them as she gets older. And that’s when grandparents (or aunts!) can be the adults she needs.
A strong relationship with your grandchildren deserves thoughtful planning.
As I shared in the January newsletter, having a grandparent vision statement allows us to commit to the relationship with our grandchildren in an intentional, meaningful way. It reminds us of what we really hold important, and acts as a starting point for creating the relationship we want. It allows us to move past the idea of “spoiling” our grandchildren to a place of true connection.
Over the last couple of weeks, I shared some tips on how to write your vision statement and talked about the importance of sharing it with your grandchildren’s parents. Now I want to talk about how to actually achieve the goals you set in your vision. As Antoine de Saint Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” It’s time to make that plan.
The next step is sharing your vision statement with parents.
Have you written your grandparent vision statement? Last week, we talked about why that’s an important first step in committing to your role as a grandparent. The next step is both simple and, for some, difficult: sharing your vision with your grandchild’s parents. The easy part is this: once you’ve got your vision written down, send them an email with the details. In that email, or in a follow up conversation, explain why you wrote it and what it means to you. That might be the hard part for you—because it may feel as if you are sharing something personal. But it is incredibly important to share it, for more than one reason.
Sharing shows you value your role as part of a team.
Too often, parents feel cast aside once they provide you with a grandchild. It’s hard for many of us to lift our focus from the enchanting being that has entered our lives! By sharing your vision statement with them, you let parents know that you value your relationship to them in their role as parents. It shows that you recognize that they are the key to realizing your goals as a grandparent, and sets the groundwork for a relationship based on mutual respect.