Good grandparents come in all shapes, sizes, personalities, and income levels. There’s not a list of things you must “be” to be a good grandparent. Even if I gave you a list of things to “be” and you didn’t match one thing on that list, you could still be a fantastic grandparent. So, when you read through my article, just remember, this is just one person’s opinion, mine. Answering the question, “What makes a good grandparent?” might be different for every grandparent.
Being a good grandparent can’t be measured by performing a list of do’s and don’ts or ways to “be”. It’s a matter of loving and caring for each child as an individual by spending time with them and forming a relationship. Unconditional, gentle, sweet love from a grandparent is the best gift you can give a grandchild. And over time your love for them will grow as will theirs for you.
Generously Give Your Time
The ability to give time is different for every grandparent. Some grandparents are young and still work full-time jobs and are building their careers. Others are retired and have all the time in the world. While others have health issues that keep them from moving freely around town. Every situation is different.
But even if you’re super busy, these little people you call your grandchildren are your family and you need to let them know how much you love them. Your presence at family gatherings, giving their parents a break by babysitting, and acknowledging their milestones and accomplishments, is a big deal.
Carving out time to be with your grandkids can come in a lot of different ways. Having them spend the weekend with you where you can read them bedtime stories, bake cookies in the kitchen, or let them run through the sprinkle while you watch are times they may remember. And you will for sure remember those special times.
As your grandchildren get older you might want to go to special places with them. Museums, shopping days, and trips out of town are wonderful ways to spend time with them. Or you may want to take on a special one-on-one project like teaching them to sew, making a woodworking project, or taking a ceramics class together.
Understanding your older grandchild’s interests will help you plan the project with them. And doing something they enjoy will create a memory they will cherish their entire life.
Maintain Your Own Life While Being Supportive
You spent 20+ years raising your children and now the nest is empty, it’s a wonderful time to cultivate your own interests and have some fun doing what you want to do. Whether it’s continuing to build your career, retirement that includes travel, a new business, or maybe finally getting the time to pursue your favorite hobbies or activities. Whatever it is, now is the time to live life for you.
Your children are grown and you did a wonderful job raising them. Being involved in their lives and that of your grandchildren can be very fulfilling but you need to remember that it’s their season to raise children and it’s your time to step back and be part of their support system.
So much has changed with having babies and raising kids, it’s now time to take the lead from your adult children. Listen to how they want to do things, respect their decisions, and learn about their parenting style. More times than not, it’s best to wait until you’re asked for advice rather than offer it freely. You are you and will always do some things your way, but an attempt at emulating the style they’ve chosen will give consistency to the children when you are caring for them.
Accepting your role as the grandparent, not the parent, is crucial in maintaining your relationship with your son or daughter or your son-in-law or daughter-in-law. Respecting their decisions, admiration for the job they’re doing, and unconditional love no matter what you think, will guide you through all situations concerning those relationships.
Loving those grandbabies is what life is all about!
So, what do you do when you’re spending time with your grandchildren?
Young kids like you to play with them. If possible, get down on the floor, get in the pool, and run through the sprinkler! Be silly, laugh, play games, and be mellow about the mess. Being with you can be special for them, make sure it is. They will love it and love you for it.
Grandparents always wonder if they should spoil their grandchildren. It’s the universal question of should I, or shouldn’t I? When it comes to letting them do things, you also must consider how much time you spend with them. If you’re with them a lot, like you give them full-time childcare, then what your allowing might upset their daily lives if they try doing it at home. That could change the dynamics of their household and cause problems. If that’s the case, you’re best to follow the guidance of their parents and only allow what they allow.
But, if you only get to see your grandchildren for a limited amount of time, even if that time is quite often, there’s no harm in making that time special and indulging them a little. Just consider whether what you’re allowing will cause upset at home. You don’t want there to be problems at home every time they come to visit you.
The other area of concern with spoiling is buying them gifts. Could the gift-giving become excessive? Is giving them a gift every time you see them too much? Maybe it’s okay, especially if you don’t see them often. But if you do, they will come to expect it. Decide ahead of time what you want them to expect of you. And remember, if you start to think it’s excessive, their parents probably thought that long before you even considered it. It might be time to discuss it with them.
Children are smart and instinctively know how people feel about them. Giving them a toy instead of giving them quality time is never a good exchange.
Having grandchildren is a blessing so wonderful it’s hard to describe. You love them just like you love your own children, how can so much love even be possible? Making your time with them loving, gentle, fun and maybe even a little exciting will make life grand and give you rewarding relationships for the rest of your life.