For many lucky people, if they stop and think of their most memorable childhood moments, it often involves their grandparents. Maybe it is the holidays with the extended family at the grandparent’s home, the extra treats that only grandma can give, or nana’s warm cuddles. The bond that is able to form between a grandparent and child is truly unique and can become a very special relationship for the whole family, but can most certainly have a positive influence on the child’s development. Research has shown that children who are fortunate enough to have formed warm and loving relationships with their grandparents are more resilient to some of life’s hardships. For some they may be becoming a parent or grandparent for the first time, and it is incredible to think that this new relationship can be so valuable to the young person. But actually, the new relationship for a grandparent can also be rewarding where many grandparents relish the joy of watching children grow and embrace the love of being loved by a child. One of the great benefits of being the grandparent, not the parent, is to be able to love and care for a child without the full responsibility of the parent or primary carer. Grandparents can have all of the fun and then send them home with a belly full of cake!
The role of the grandparent is a different role, and when the child is born it can be worth considering what you want this role to be. Do you want to be more hands-on and provide support while the parents return to work or study? Or helpful in other ways like cooking meals and helping out with the laundry from time-to-time? Either way, tired parents will be very pleased for any support that comes their way, but just remember to be clear in your conversations about what is and is not possible for you, for your stage of life and other responsibilities. When people are a little more stressed or a little extra tired, miscommunications or expectations may become misconstrued.
If this is your first grandchild, it may be hard to envisage what type of grandparent you want to be. Here are some ideas to help get you started:
Ask the parents-to-be what support they may think they’ll need. Depending on whether this is the first or second child, the parents may already have some areas that they need help with, e.g. child-care or school drop-offs; meal-prep.
What are your current commitments, e.g. work or volunteer roles, or hobbies.
Talk to other friends who are grandparents, what do they enjoy most? What has been difficult?
Be ready for change. Once the baby is born, the families’ needs may change depending on the mother and child.
The birth of a child is an exciting moment for the whole family and it is also a time of great change. With every new beginning a new relationships has an opportunity to be formed, but how do you build that relationship with a child. Kids seem to have a never-ending supply of energy which can be hard to keep up with, but don’t forget that while you are playing and enjoying small moments together this is when your relationship is growing. This is also where a child’s development is being supported. Along with a child’s never-ending supply of energy, they also come with many belongings, bags, and mess. Everything is messy, from how little one’s eat, go through multiple changes of clothes and dirty shoes. To have the quality time with your grandchildren as relaxing and enjoyable as possible, you may need to lower the standards of cleanliness and order in the home and put away the breakables.