One of the most fulfilling and enriching experiences that you can have in life is being a grandparent. However, grand parenting can also be a potential minefield if you don’t keep a few basic rules in mind. So here are some dos and don’ts guaranteed to keep you on the straight and narrow, make you a leading contender for the Granny Awards on 888ladies and, most importantly of all, earn you the love and respect of your grandchildren and their parents.
Do love your grandchildren unconditionally. You can never shower them with too much affection and attention.
Do stay in close touch. Arrange to see the family regularly, so that they will always look forward to the quality time they share with you. If you live far enough away to make frequent visits impractical, then fully embrace the internet. Skype is a real gift from the gods of technology for staying in touch. As you look out through their laptop the kids will be able to take you on a virtual tour of whatever they are up to. It’ll be the second best thing to being there in person.
Do listen. As you’ll remember from your own experiences, being a parent of young children can sometimes be exhausting and unless you’re a precisely organised and super competent domestic deity the time can just slip away. You, on the other hand, have the opportunity to interact with the children without those pressures. Take your time and show the young ones how to do so, too. Be attentive and hear what they have to say. Be more a friend than a parent.
Do play games and sports with the grandkids, but don’t be afraid to win. Children are naturally competitive, but you will be teaching them a great life lesson if they learn to accept both winning and losing with grace.
Do read to your grandchildren. A love of books and words is one of the most precious gifts you can give them, greater than any material possessions.
The big don’ts are fewer, and many of them can be summed up under the heading of Don’t Undermine Parental Authority. Remember, you are not the parent. Parenting may be different to what it was in your day, but that is neither a good or bad thing; it simply is. You may feel the urge to pass comment on how the kids are dressed, fed and educated, but keep it to yourself to avoid friction. The parents are doing the best they can and need your support.
Don’t try to buy affection. Splashing out on toys, trips and treats is what grandparents do, of course, but overdo it and the kids will not learn to appreciate the value of what they have and become materialistic. Such largesse may even cause resentment on the part of financially pinched parents, so tread carefully.
So there you are, a terrific grandparent; cuddly, great with children, discreetly keeping your own counsel and maybe prone to dozing off now and then. All of that will keep the grandkids intrigued. After all, imagine what it’s like; wondering if your granny is secretly a cat.