by Rachelle Tannenbaum
Grandparents play many roles in their grandchildren's lives. It can be a wonderfully fun role, but a stressful one as well. In this issue of the ezine, Claire Cole explores ways to make this role a source of pleasure in your lives. Claire is an adjunct psychology instructor at Anne Arundel Community College where she teaches courses on children, parenting, and aging. She also teaches a class on Grandparenting for The Parenting Center. Claire is an RN with four sons and five grandchildren.
If you'd like to learn more, then you won’t want to miss our course on Grandparenting, FON 332. Details are on our courses page. Alternatively, you can bring us to your neighborhood and have us offer this or any other course at your school, church, or organization. Contact us today for more details!
by Claire Cole
If you don’t believe in love at first sight, you have never had a grandchild. It is the beginning of a new generation, the extension of your family heritage, an experience that will change your life forever. Here is a little one that you can enjoy without having the responsibilities of parenting.
Obviously your role as a grandparent will depend on a whole host of variables: how far away your kids and grandkids live, the financial situation of you and your child, your own health and energy level, etc. But here are some general suggestions that can help you make the most of your role as grandparent while also maintaining good relationships with your children.
Maintaining good communication with your adult child will help to make the experience a more positive one. If you are not on the same page, there is trouble ahead. What might your child expect of you?
- Enjoy your grandchild with no strings attached
- Provide some evening or overnight babysitting to enable the parents to go out
- It is difficult to find daycare for an ill child. Grandparents can help out when the child is ill and the parents need to go to work.
- Day care is expensive. Low income and single parents may be counting on you to watch the children full time.
Consistency is important. It is confusing for a child to have a different set of rules at your house than at home.
- Don’t count on your grandchildren to tell you what time they are supposed to go to bed. Check with the parent about the time and flexibility in special situations.
- We know that your grandchildren are angels, but even angels misbehave once in a while. Find out what methods of discipline are used in various situations.
- Childhood obesity is increasing. Many parents are cutting down or eliminating snacks. What types of snacks are permitted? Don’t give the child junk food because you feel sorry for him. Children can learn to enjoy healthy snacks.
- Parents may limit the amount and type of television a child is permitted to watch. Use your time together to read a book, bake cookies, or take a walk.
- Chores teach a child responsibility. Encourage your grandchild to help you and reward them with a hug. It makes them feel important and appreciated.
Remember that you are not the parent.
- Give advice when asked to do so. Learn to bite your tongue.
- Provide support and encouragement. Parenting is not an easy job.
- Accept the fact that your child has the final word. You had your chance to be a parent. Now it is your child’s turn.
- Be non-judgmental when expressing concerns. It is more likely to be listened to.
- Check with your child before buying large gifts—some parents don’t want a swing set or mini-Hummer in their back yard.
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