Grandparenting is different for every family and it is important to have conversations with your adult children about what they expect from you, even before the baby arrives.
Grandparenting has changed now that more parents are in the workforce and may be working new style work schedules, like fly in fly out. Grandparents may still be working too.
More children are cared for by grandparents than in child care centres and many grandparents find themselves taking on full time care.
Common roles for grandparents
- Nurturer, mentor, listener and supporter
- Caring for grandchildren – part time or fulltime
- Helping establish routines – following Mum and Dad’s lead
- Playmate wizard and hero
- Family historian – explain relationships and tell them about the extended family
- Supporting your children- doing a few chores , cooking a meal, babysitting.
A few things to consider before you begin
- What are you able to do and what would you like to do?
- What do the parents want you to do?
- Keeping your own interests – fitting grandparenting in the time you have.
- What does your health and energy levels allow?
Avoiding tensions and pitfalls
- Relax, play and have fun!
- It’s the simple things that we do and the time that we spend with our grandchildren that make memories. Like baking, building a cubby house or having a picnic on the back lawn.
- Focus on developing a relationship with your grandchild because there are big rewards to be had – for both you and the child.
- Consider trial periods if you plan to care regularly for your grandchild – “Let’s try it for a month and see how it goes”
- Respect the parents and follow their rules unless you have talked about an alternative
- Offer support rather than criticism
- Give advice only when invited
- Treats are allowed but do not keep secrets from the family
- Safety proof your house and consider what equipment you might need for the house and car
- Be prepared to be flexible
- Use quieter activities if you need them – reading books , music, puzzles, board games – keep some toys just for your house or maybe visit the local library
- Be prepared to learn from your grandchildren
- Treat them as individuals, they will all be different
- Remember most grandparents are in the privileged position to provide lots of love and calm space where grandchildren can take time to explore and try new things
- Read some more on grandparenting and current parenting matters and talk with other grandparents for ideas.
Grandparenting is a wonderful opportunity to grow deep and long-lasting relationships with your grandchildren.
Want to know more?
The Raising Children Network – Grandparents and kinship carers
Australian Institute of Family Studies – Families, policy and the law
Zero to Three – 7 things you should know about grandparenting