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How To Be An Awesome And Supportive Grandparent

Balancing age-old wisdom with new recommendations is not always the easiest feat.

07/12/2017 17:29 EDT | Updated 07/17/2017 12:10 EDT
Sam Edwards

Sometimes you have been waiting on tenterhooks for months, or years, for the announcement that a grandchild is on the way. Other times, it comes as a complete shock. No matter which camp you fall into, a tiny baby is soon going to wrap you around their little finger. You are happy and excited, and you have so much wisdom to share.

So why isn't your son or daughter more eager to hear all you have to say?

Balancing age-old wisdom with new recommendations is not always the easiest feat. It can take time to find the sweet spot in giving advice and letting new parents figure it out for themselves. Plus, those tiny little feet just look cold, right? As a new grandparent, you mean well and you only want the best for the entire family. So how can you accomplish that?

Tip #1: Take a Grandparents Class

Becoming more and more common, these classes are usually taught by a nurse or Certified Childbirth Educator and are a way for you to learn about new recommendations. This can be particularly helpful when it comes to feeding, sleeping, and car seats – the three things where recommendations have changed the most in the last 20-40 years.

Tip #2: Ask and Actually Listen

It is important to ask what the parents' preferences are when it comes to their baby. Even more important, listen and do the things they have asked. While it is tempting to do what you did in the past, that is the path to arguments and less visits.

Image Source via Getty Images

Tip #3: Don't Take It Personally

You did it that way and your kids turned out fine, right? Well, yes, but that doesn't mean that there isn't another, possibly safer, way of doing it. What was considered best practice thirty years ago is very different from what is considered best practice today. Your son or daughter doing things differently is not a comment on your parenting, even if it feels that way in the moment. And when they don't take your advice, it may feel like a rejection, but it isn't. Often they are doing what feels best to them, or what their doctor or pediatrician has recommended.

Tip #4: You'll Get Your Snuggles...Eventually

New parents may be possessive about their baby. They may not want other people, even grandparents, holding their baby frequently or for long periods. As hard as that may seem, your snuggles are coming. It won't be long before the new parents are begging for an afternoon to themselves and you have a lap full of soft, snuggly, little one. So if the new parents seemed overwhelmed and reluctant to give up their hold on their bundle of joy, help out in other ways. Your patience and understanding will be noticed and very appreciated.

Tip #5: Understand the Boundaries

Even if the new parents are happy to pass baby over for cuddles, that doesn't mean you can pop by unannounced. One of the most common things that new parents struggle with when they bring home baby are boundaries for extended family. If you are going to stop by, make sure the household knows you are coming, don't stay too long unless it has been previously arranged (such as out of town grandparents staying to help in the first few weeks), and always help out in a way that isn't holding the baby. That may be bringing over a cooked meal, doing the dishes in the sink, running a load of laundry, or running some errands for the tired new parents. But know and understand that some days may be no-visitor days for the new parents, and that includes grandparents.

This is an exciting time for everyone. A new baby is a joy to be around, for parents and extended family alike. Being a grandparent is one of the best jobs in the world – all of the fun without all of the stresses and worries that parenthood brings. Enjoy every minute, but don't forget that you raised your children well, and they've got this.

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