10 tips for grandparents (that are great for parents too)
My name is Jane and I’m Grandmamma to four honey-dipped grand-kid-lets; three live in Sydney and one in Alice Springs. Grand-parenting from far, or near, can be both a meaningful and joyous role. Here I share some tips weaving in pleasure with practicality.
1. Read with them.
Be the book buyer or the local library lover. Paint a bookshelf with them and then build a collection. On each birthday gift them a book and write on it so they are able to look back and see your handwriting and hear your words.
2. Speak a different language if you know one.
Sing lullabies, share stories, recite poems and tell tall tales. Explain your culture and traditions to them. Opening doors to another way gives them a glimpse into another world and in doing so you’re planting seeds of understanding and empathy.
3. Be solid and consistent in your interactions, whether you’re a routine or a flexible type.
Be an example of showing up and being on time. I have a simple routine after work with my 8 month old granddaughter; we stand out on the front porch and wave to cars. Whether it’s for an hour or half a day, make it count in making memories.
4. Keep it simple.
No need on splashing out in monetary terms, but spending quality time is a significant investment. Undivided attention is a priceless gift. For younger children it could be taking walks and pointing out nature. For the older kids playing ‘Spotto’ or challenging them to a dance-off.
5. Set boundaries.
For everyone’s safety and well-being. Know your limits both physically and financially. And equally as important – respect the trust, rules and expectations of the parents. Grandparents are known to stretch rules, but don’t break them.
6. Establish clear communication.
When choosing a routine, and activities check with the parents if it’s okay. Understand and accept that even though theirs is still an extension of yours, it is now a different family nucleus. It is important that you check that what you see as being a help is not really hindering them.
7. Be the Interest Stirrer.
Introduce your grandchildren to your profession or passion. If they show curiosity then pursue it, if not you have shown them a window into your life (beyond them) and life in general.
8. Stay relevant.
Keep your senses sharpened. Stay informed. Stay attracted to the things that kept you on your toes. Steer to new things. For the older grandchildren, conversations are enlivened when we are well informed on interesting and relevant topics.
9. No Comparisons. No rivalry.
Different styles of grand-parenting can mean the children receive a broad and wholesome experience and relationships. One way is not the right way and we can always learn and understand from each other.
10. Leave a lasting legacy.
The wealth we share and is not necessarily counted its worth in gold. It’s in empowering and enriching the next generations to love life and the world they live in.