How to be a Good Grandparent


Becoming a grandparent means that one’s own child has become a parent. This point might seem obvious, except that the combined effect of these two wonder­ed but emotionally charged events can be explosive.

For the new grandparents, the birth rekindles their own memories of early parenthood and is an opportunity to relive many of those moments. For the new parents, the birth is the start of the next phase in their life, a phase usually anticipated eagerly. The baby is the parents’ child first, and the grandpar­ents’ grandchild second. The prime responsibility for decision­making rests with the parents. Many couples complain that in the first few days and weeks of their baby’s life the new grand­parents act as though the baby were their own. This under­mines the parents’ self-confidence and frequently results in increased family tension. Grandparents should take a back seat at this stage and allow the couple to gain confidence in their new role as parents.

The relationship between parents and their own parents changes as the grandchild grows older. In the early years of the infant’s life, the parents may rely on the grandparents for occa­sional advice. But as the child develops, the grandparents may be asked for more practical help—such as looking after the child so that the parents can go out. The grandparents may begin to take on the role of trustworthy baby sitters rather than advisers. However, looking after the grandchild in this way helps strengthen the bond between grandparent and grandchild and keeps that relationship special.

Grandparents often overindulge their grandchild. This may cause resentment. Grandparents’ rules may be far more lenient than the parents’ discipline. Most children are well able to han­dle two such sets of standards. Difficulties can arise, though, when grandparents undermine the parents’ authority by dis­agreeing with them in front of the grandchild. For example: The whole family gathers together for a big occasion, the child is excited, his parents tell him to behave. Then the grandparents announce that the child should be left alone as he is not doing anyone any harm. At this point, the relationship between par­ents and grandparents becomes strained. In-law relationships can become especially tense, as family values and beliefs some­times conflict.

Grandparents must remember that they are exactly that— namely, the child’s grandparents, and not his parents. Matters of discipline are best left to the child’s mother and father. This doesn’t mean that everything the parents say and do is cor­rect—nobody is infallible when it comes to looking after chil­dren. It does mean that if grandparents are concerned about their grandchild’s development, they should raise any concerns they may have when the grandchild isn’t present. The grand­parents should also be prepared to accept that their advice and opinions may not be heeded.

The grandchild-grandparent relationship should be main­tained, both in intact and divorced families. Sadly, one of the common, though not inevitable, side effects of divorce is that a child may lose touch with one set of grandparents. This can add psychological stress to a child already distressed by the loss of one parent at home. If the child already has a close relationship with his grandparents, it is best to maintain this relationship, irrespective of the parental separation.

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About the Author: Bruno Silva is an entrepreneur from Portugal with over 15 years of experience in Online Marketing. He is also a blogger and writes on variety of topics from online marketing to designs, cars to loans, etc.

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