By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.
There are about 70 million grandparents in the US today, and each month 75,000 Americans 45-69 years old join the club. Most grandparents begin their grandparenting role during their middle age. The average age of becoming a grandparent is between 49 and 53 years; however, because of the increased teen pregnancy rate, more and more parents are becoming grandparents in their thirties.
As a grandparent, you have the opportunity to create a special bond with your grandchild, one that will help him/her grow into a loving and responsible adult. Your relationship will benefit your grandchild, but also provide you with an important link to your family and the younger generation. You not only provide extended family support, encouragement, and/or companionship but are also involved in your children's and grandchildren's lives and their many achievements. Often, most grandparents are better as grandparents than perhaps they were as a parent, due to years of experience and even comparatively better time, money and resources.
Some tips on being a great grandparent:
- Listen to your grandchild.
- Do not judge your grandchild if your thoughts dont match. You are bound to have a huge generation gap. Respect your grandchilds opinion and provide valuable insights in a friendly manner.
- Remember you are the grandparent. Do not take away the parents right to do their own parenting.
- Do not overly criticize your grandchild for his/her way of dressing or food habits. Do talk about academic performances and social circle in an understanding and friendly tone.
- Recognize grandparenting requires growth. Changes in personality and attitude may be necessary to be an effective grandparent. Keep an open mind to the new styles of clothing, music, and unusual hairstyles!
- Talk about lively and interesting subjects.
- Take your grandchildren to picnics, parks, exhibitions and theatres for a fun, enriching and rewarding experience.
- The grandparent's role is to foster that vital connection which spans three generations. Pass along stories of your childhood and memories of your own grandparents. Encourage children's natural curiosity about their family heritage.
- Love your grandchildren for what they are, not for what you think they should be.
Sometimes circumstances beyond your control make it difficult for you to spend time with your grandchildren. If you live far away from your grandchildren or if your son or daughter is divorced from their spouse, you may have a limited ability to interact with your grandchildren. If time and distance are issues, you can still connect with your grandchildren by telephone, letter and email. During family changes and crises, your grandchildren may need you more than ever. If you cant connect with them in person, just letting them know that you are there and that you care can be incredibly important and worthwhile. Sometimes alternate means of communication can enable more openness and a greater sense of connection.
How well the parent and grandparent interact has a great influence on whether the relationship with the grandchildren is close or distant. Remember, greater closeness and contact between parents and grandparents equals more closeness and contact between grandchildren and grandparents.
Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center, http://www.startingadaycarecenter.com.