10 Tips for New and Expecting Grandparents

Your place as a grandparent begins even before your grandchild is born. From the moment when you get the surprising news, your actions and reactions matter. Being a grandparent! It’s a big deal – and an event you may have been anticipating for a long time.

But this transition brings challenges as well as joy. Here are ten tips to help you avoid common new-grandparent pitfalls and handle your role with flair and grace.

10 Tips for New and Expecting Grandparents

Here’s some simple advice sure to make grandparenting easier!

1. Set the stage for smooth relationships

As much as you can, stay positive, be flexible, and go with the flow. Focus on supporting the expecting parents rather than telling them what you want.

It may make life easier for everyone if you communicate directly with the other grandparents – about events like a baby shower, for example – rather than going through the parents-to-be. If you haven’t met the other grandparents, ask for an introduction.

2.  Go easy on the shopping

With a new grandchild on the way, it’s tempting to go on a shopping spree. But before you do, ask the parents-to-be what they need, what they don’t want, and whether there’s a baby registry or wishlist you can consult before you buy anything.

Some expectant parents welcome all gifts, but others would prefer to make most of the choices about clothing, toys, and gear themselves. And there may be other factors they’re weighing, like an impending move or limited space.

3.  Be prepared to share

If you’ve not been sociable with the other family, you might want to plan a social occasion to get to know them better before the new baby arrives

Communicate with the other grandparents to coordinate visits. A little planning and discussion before the birth will keep the new parents from being overrun with grandparents immediately after the birth.

4. Smile when you get the news

When the expectant parents share the good news with you, act pleased, even if you are concerned about issues such as finances. Be sure to inquire before telling anyone else, and let the parents be the ones to tell close friends and relatives.

If the couple would like to wait a bit before announcing the news to others, respect their wishes and don’t tell their secret.

5. Do help out

Especially at the end of the pregnancy and right after the birth, the new parents will need some assistance, but don’t do too much.

The mother or father who comes for a visit and insists on working the whole time is sending a message to the expectant parents that they can’t adequately take care of their own needs.

6. Don’t take their choices personally

Are they advocates of co-sleeping? Don’t want to circumcise? Want to name their boy Peach? Honestly, it’s not your problem.

Yes, you may feel a tad embarrassed sharing your grandson’s new moniker with your friends, but you didn’t name him. Right? Just raise your eyebrows and report it with a smile.

7. Follow their rules

You’re used to being the one in charge, but this time it’s your child’s turn. That can be disconcerting but you may find this role reversal refreshing as well. After all, with authority comes responsibility. Now it’s your turn to do what you’re told- and not worry about whether it’s the best way or not.

8. Give new parents a break

It’s easy to forget how overwhelming it is to be a new parent, and how hard it can be to accomplish the basics. This is where you can step in to save the day.

During visits, offer to take care of your grandbaby while the parents nap or get other things done. Ask if you can help by running errands, making meals, or cleaning up.

9. Let bonding happen naturally

 Try to avoid specific expectations- they can be a recipe for disappointment. Instead, focus on getting to know your grandchild slowly and naturally.

10. Listen and Defer

No matter how many kids you raised, your adult child and his or her spouse or partner are now in charge of the childrearing

Let the parents-to-be experiment- not every decision they make will stick. Be cautious about offering opinions or advice unless asked directly.

The “grandparent effect” can help families with everything from childcare to financial support. However, it’s the relationship that matters most. Some new parents are reluctant to ask grandparents to help, so you may get better results if you just jump in and do what’s needed, like filling the dishwasher or making sandwiches.