You are so excited… your first grandchild has arrived into the world! You want to jump in and take over, but then your children don’t want you interfering.
I get this question all the time. “What did I do wrong? My children are upset with me… but I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Many times, new grandparents aren’t sure how to move forward. People tell me they want to be part of the beautiful experience of grandparenthood. They want to move full steam ahead. All they can think about is their grandchild and everything they’re going to do with him or her.
Your expectations are high, but the new parents may behave in a way that feels like they are pushing you away. Or, perhaps they are so anxious they call you four times a day wondering how to do this or that.
I did some informal research and asked my daughter’s friends, who are all having or recently had babies, what they thought is the best advice to new grandparents.
I heard these resounding comments over and over:
Ask Before You Do
Always ask your children, the parents of your grandchild, first. Don’t assume that your children are going to parent the exact same way you do or did.
Respect the New Parents’ Decisions
It’s all about healthy boundaries. If your kids say “no” don’t over ride their decision because you think you know better. Remember, this new family is trying to find their way. It is a trial-and-error experience. You might not like it, but interfering will only put distance between you and the new parents.
Focus on the Needs of the New Parents, aka, Your Children
Look for ways you can support them. On the emotional front, listen, listen, listen! If they talk about their exhaustion, acknowledge the fatigue that comes with the challenges of being first-time parents.
Gently offer suggestions on how to handle certain issues, but only if you ask them first. You can say, “I have an idea that might help… Do you want to hear it?” If they say yes, share. If they say no, let it go.
I think the biggest takeaway is to understand that you are weaving a new relationship with your children and your grandchild. It’s not just about the baby. Don’t try to take over. Move gently and slowly because you are working with a new family that is finding their way.
You will have a better relationship in the long run.
What are your experiences of being a new grandparent? What mistakes did you make and what did you learn from them? Please be so kind to share them in the box below so we can all learn from each other.