10 great ways to achieve great grand-parenting

 

There’s something wonderful about being a grandparent. But, just like parenting, there’s a shortage of wisdom on how to do it right.

So let me share with you some wisdom from Rob Parsons’ brilliant book ‘The Sixty Minute Grandparent’. It includes 10 great insights on making grand-parenting a success.

But first, some context. Being a grandparent today can be tougher than for our parents’ generation. Our kids tend to have their off-springs later in life than we did. So we are older when the grandchildren are younger.

That can be a challenge to energy levels as well as finding the knack of constraining a wriggly infant in a car seat. Or working out how to collapse a baby buggy that needs a degree in engineering to do so.

You may also be one of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’. At one and the same time, committed to caring for your own elderly parents, supporting your ‘adult’ children and seeking to be a hands-on grandparent. It’s a challenge few in past generations had to face.

The world has changed too. When I was little my 70-year-old granny sang me Scottish folk songs and we played Snap together. Today, the average grandparent has to cope with the mysteries of the virtual world as well as being looked to for practical support by a working mother.

In fact, 1 in 3 UK families depend on grandparents for a degree of childcare. This can be both a blessing and a stress-inducing burden. It’s no joke looking after a toddler who wanders from one accident prone zone to the next. And with, everything needing to be done as the parents say, not how you used to do it.

So what about some wisdom to see you through? Here comes those 10 suggestions, thanks to Rob Parsons. The thinking is his but some of the words are also mine.

  1.  Try not to interfere with or criticise your children’s parenting. No matter how you would choose to do things, affirm and encourage. Because that’s what they need most.
  2. When they are old enough, find ways to connect them to the past. Help them to know ‘where they came from’ by telling them about their family and its history. Hang on to old photos and other reminders and share them.
  3.  Develop traditions – activities, things and events they associate with you that happen on your watch. It might be a special game, an ‘in’ joke, a regular surprise, or something else.
  4. Make sure they know your love for them is without conditions. That they cannot earn your love or lose it. Tell them and show them – often..
  5. If asked to help with childcare don’t feel compelled to rush into a long term regular commitment. Just because our offspring has chosen to have offspring of their own doesn’t make you obliged, and sometime not everything is possible. So set a date to review the situation – how it’s working for all parties.
  6. Agree a joint policy on bedtimes, rules for TV, iPads and sweets etc. And confirm them in earshot of the grandchild to save the ‘but Mummy says’ ambush. Bute reserving the right to have your special rules when the grandchildren are in your house.
  7. Keep your eyes open for little ears. They hear more than you can ever believe. And, especially, never speak negatively about their parents in children’s hearing.
  8. If you live at a distance Skype and WhatsApp are wonderful things to keep in touch and abreast with news.
  9. Praise them for their qualities and not their looks. In our image conscious world they don’t need more reinforcement that the way they look matters the most.
  10. If you have more than one, look for opportunities to spend time with them as individuals. Their own special time with Grandma or Grandad can be more special to them than you imagine.

For of course, in no time at all these ‘little ones’ will grow and present a whole new set of needs and pleasures as teens and beyond into adulthood. Meanwhile, we can add your prayers and the example of your life. And enjoy.

For more insights on you and your grandkids, see our website on Grand-parenting. And if you have thoughts of your own, do please share them on our Facebook.

Celia Bowring

Celia isn’t retired yet – although she’s recently changed from being office-based to working from home, so working out her own use of time. Celia writes the CARE Prayer Diary along with many other resources. She also chairs Pray for Schools. And loves being a hands-on grandmother!

 

Comments

  1. Great! As relevant as ever since I started supporting you in 1992! We are 84 in two/four months time. Our grandchildren 3×4 plus a 6 & 8 year old. Your publications are so very fresh, readable and relevant. Ever pleased you came Carlisle way so many years ago when I was ‘in harness’!

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The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife