“When is the grandchild coming?!?”
You’ve been asking for years. Finally, your first grandchild is on their way. Congratulations to the new grandparents! You couldn’t be more excited and can’t wait to spend as much time as possible with the little one.
But amongst all of the joy and excitement of becoming a grandparent for the first time, it’s essential that you take some time to think about how you’ll handle your relationship with the parents.
To help you with that, let’s take a look at a few tips for new grandparents to ensure a healthy parent/grandparent relationship:
As difficult as it may be, it’s important to realize that your adult child and their partner are in charge of how they raise their children. Offering unsolicited advice and telling them how they should raise your grandchild is a surefire way to create resentment that can cause a rift in your family.
While there will be plenty of times that you’ll disagree with a decision, offering your unsolicited opinion will almost always end badly. Respect their boundaries and give your adult child and their partner the opportunity to experience the ups and downs of parenting on their terms.
2Focus on Being Supportive
As a grandparent, it’s easy to forget how difficult parenting can be. And while you do want to respect your child’s boundaries as they begin their journey into parenthood, that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t offer your support when they need it.
From offering to give the new parents a break during visits and preparing meals to running errands and providing words of encouragement, there are plenty of ways to be supportive.
3Understand That Every Parent is Different
Every set of parents raises their children differently. And, while you may feel as if you know the ‘right’ way to raise a child, it’s important to realize that there’s no right and wrong way to do it.
Don’t get offended if your adult child and their partner handle childbearing differently than you did. The way you treat grandparenting will be different than most as well.
In most cases, the best way for new grandparents to ensure a healthy relationship and prevent conflicts with parents is to communicate honestly from the beginning. Let them know what you’re willing to help with and be clear that you have no intention of stepping on their toes or offering unsolicited advice.
Be clear with them that they can come to you if they have any questions or concerns about what to do in specific situations and that you’ll be there to support them in any way you can. Ask them what they would like help with and let them know that they can come to you if they feel you’re too overbearing.
While it may be a little awkward to start this conversation, it can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
5Never Criticize Your Children or Their Partner
This one is huge. Criticizing your children or their partner for a decision they make about how to raise their child is a sure-fire way to create a rift in your family. Becoming a new parent can be overwhelming, and your child needs your unconditional support as they begin their journey into parenthood.
Regardless of your beliefs, do everything in your power to focus on what you believe to be the positive qualities of your son/daughter and his/her partner. Feel free to let them know when you think they’re doing a great job with a particular aspect of parenting but avoid being outspoken in instances where you disagree.
6Be a Friend and Listen
While you are their parent, your son/daughter likely won’t have much patience if your time spent with them consists of talking about how you raised them or their siblings. With the stress of being a new parent, there will be plenty of times when your child wants to get things off their chest.
Be a friend and let your child know that they can come to you whenever they want to talk about anything. Focus on listening to what they have to say and let them know that you understand what they’re going through without telling them what they should do.
There are few things more enjoyable than becoming a new grandparent. Regardless of how much help your son/daughter and their partner ask for in raising their child, focus on enjoying every moment that you get to spend with your grandchild.
While there are plenty of stories about parent/grandparent relationships turning sour, there are far more that involve a healthy relationship. If you focus on providing unconditional support and encouragement while allowing your adult child and their partner to raise their child in their unique way, you too can have a healthy relationship that benefits everyone involved.