Becoming a first-time grandparent is exciting. An event many people look forward to with great anticipation in later life. The first snapshot that reaches your anxious hands, the first time holding your grandchild’s tiny, sweet-smelling body in your arms. The first time hearing the long awaited words “grandma,” or “grandpa” from cherub lips all will make your heart melt with pride, joy, and love.
Whether you live a great distance away, a few towns over, or just around the block, you can have a very positive impact on your grandchild’s life, become an important role model, and be of great help to your daughter or son – new in their role as a parent.
First Things First…the New Parents – To ensure that things get off to a good start it is important to consider the following: How much help and advice is too much?
After all, you don’t want to overwhelm new parents, not yet comfortable or confident in their new role as parents. Or make it appear as though you question their competence.
To avoid possible offense, it might be best to offer advice sparingly, except when specifically asked. Once the new parents understand that your motive is genuine, and not because you think they are not doing a good enough job, they will relax and better appreciate your unique role as grandparent.
It is also a good idea not to criticize the efforts of your child in their role as parent – or the efforts of their spouse. Unless the child’s safety, health, or emotional well-being is at risk, at which time helpful suggestions instead of pointed criticism will produce better results.
Remember, your goal is to help create a happy and loving environment for your grandchild, not one marred by hurt or resentment.
That aside, let’s looks at the many positive ways you can add to the quality of your life and that of your grandchild, at the same time benefiting the lives of others involved.
Building a Special Bond with Your Grandchild – As a grandparent, you have the golden opportunity to play a very important and positive role in their life – now, and in years to come.
If you live nearby, one way to spend quality time with your grandchild is to baby sit, as time and health permit. This not only provides you precious moments alone with your grandchild, but new parents benefit from time off by themselves. It is healthy for parents to take a “breather” every now and then, and what better person to care for the baby than you, the grandparent?
Babies love to be rocked. They also enjoy pleasing sounds; singing softly is soothing to a baby, and creates a sense of contentment.
The more you talk and sing to your grandchild, the quicker they will learn the sound of your voice, the sooner they respond with gurgles and giggles every time you enter the room.
The Joys of Reading – Toddlers and young children love to be read to. Snuggling down in a chair with your grandchild, reading, laughing, and giggling together builds a closer bond between you and your grandchild. It also helps the child develop listening, reasoning, and language skills.
Select interesting, age-appropriate stories, ones with plenty of bright, colorful pictures.
Choose stories that stress good moral values, and teach life-lessons. After reading the story, ask your grandchild questions about the story; discuss what happened, what the character did or did not do, and why.
Educators frequently emphasize the importance of the first three years of a child’s life. The size of their brain grows 90%, new skills are learned, and their unique personality blossoms. Engaging a young child in conversation encourages them to share their thoughts and feelings.
Reading to them piques interest in literary works early in life. Both facilitate good communication and socialization skills.
Long-Distance Grand Parenting – Even if you live a great distance away you can still have a big impact on your grandchild’s life. Precious moments visiting back and forth will feel all too short; but such visits will be precious and time spent together remembered with fondness.
When grandchildren do visit, lots of hugs and planning a special activity together is important.
A trip to the park or playground, playing a game, sharing a banana split at an ice cream shop all offer the opportunity to talk and share; filling in the missing months or years between visits.
Distant grandparents can also take advantage of modern technology; the Internet, fax machines, and telephones. Cell phones – especially those that allow the exchange of pictures – are great and help bridge the miles.
E-mailing pictures and messages over the Internet is an inexpensive, convenient, and fun way to maintain daily contact.
Computer programs that allow voice messages and digital cameras for on-the-spot photo sharing enhance exchanges and are the next best thing to actually being there.
At Savvy-Baby-Gear.com, we know that grandparents have the potential to impact their grandchildren’s lives in very tangible ways. They also have a marvelous opportunity to teach grandchildren about family history; linking the past with the present, giving that child a deep sense of belonging.
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