5 Tips for Successful Grandparenting
Building on the cherished connection between grandparents and grandchildren is a life-long privilege. As grandchildren grow and mature the role grandparents play in the lives of their grandchildren changes but the principals remain true at any age.
1. Boundaries are necessary for control and safety.
All children need and must learn to respect boundaries. Being clear about expectations before an activity begins frees you and the child to enjoy the event and ensures the safety of everyone involved. If you observe the boundaries are being violated, donít be afraid to remind your grandchildren again. Restate the rules as many times as necessary. Writing the rules and posting them or bringing them along is a good idea. If a rule is violated during the activity, ask the child to repeat or read the rules again.
2.Gift giving is not a requirement of grandparenting.
Establish a practice with your first grandchild and stick with it; what you do for one doesnít necessarily have to be done for all. Financial and family situations change as our children grow. If a family experiences loss of a job or divorce, donít be afraid to make temporary changes. Gifts are gifts especially when they are unexpected. Surprise gifts are the best. Gifts donít have to cost a lot. Research supports the fact that ďtime togetherĒ is the best gift we can give. Travel provides time for the grandparent and grandchildren to discover and appreciate each otherís gifts.
3. All rules must be consistent with parentsí wishes.
Anything you do with and for your grandchild needs to be discussed first with the parents. After all, parents make the rules and effective grandparents support them.
Donít keep secrets from the parents and donít ask the grandchildren to keep secrets from their parents. Many grandparents believe that some information should not be shared with the parents, but this only undermines the relationships.
4. There is no substitute for planning.
Proper planning ensures that the activity will be discussed with the parents. No matter what the age or sex of your grandchild, planning makes any activity more successful. This is not to say you canít be spontaneous, but itís often better and safer to have a plan.
Discuss with the child what he or she would like to do. Give careful thought to the age appropriateness of the activities before you begin. Giving children choices increases their self-confidence and is great training for the future.
5. Grandchildren and grandparents want to have fun!
There is no substitute for good old-fashioned belly laughs. It's good for you, your grandchild and your relationship. During the activity itself, share with your grandchildren how excited you are about being with them.
Children enjoy getting away from their parents for short periods of time and grandparents enjoy being part of a very important relationship. Parents enjoy their break too.
About the Author
Don Schmitz is a popular speaker and writer on parenting and grandparenting. He is the author of The New Face of Grandparenting ÖWhy Parents Need Their Own Parents and founder of Grandkidsandme, which includes: Grandparent Camps and Grandkid Days. Don holds graduate degrees in Education, Administration, Human Development and father to three sons and seven grandchildren. Contact Don@grandkidsandme.com.