Becoming a new grandparent is an exciting time of life. It gives us a chance to be involved in our kids’ lives in new and creative ways. As our married children begin to settle down and have kids of their own, God has a plan for us to be a blessing. However, these changing roles can also bring stress. And leave us with questions about what are some tips to help new grandparents.
The world has changed since we spent time with our grandparents. A few of us are blessed to have them around to give us tips for grandparenting. We can become uncertain about what part we’ll play in the lives of these young families.
The Status Quo for New Grandparents
During the past fifty years our society has moved away from the tradition of living within geographic family groupings. Kids marry and often move away. Grandparents retire and move to more senior-friendly locations. Because of this shift, grandparents—as a whole—aren’t as involved as in previous generations.
There are more single-parent and blended families than ever before. Add adoptions and fostering situations to this new paradigm, and grandparents are uncertain about how to help. Rest assured, one thing has not changed. When parents have the support of grandparents, living in this chaotic world becomes a lot less scary.
The place for grandparents to begin navigating this new role is with prayer. Pray regularly for your children and grandchildren and let them know you’re doing this. So often we think of prayer as the court of last resort. In reality it’s the first line of defense for those we love.
The next step is to open the lines of communication. No one appreciates a know-it-all. While grandparents have walked the parenting road before, we have not done it with all the challenges that face today’s parents. It’s important to acknowledge that fact and ask before we jump in.
Topics to Discuss with Your Adult Children
- Communicate your desire to be an active part of your children and grandchildrens’ lives. Be open and honest about how you would like to be involved. Then, prepare for compromise.
- Find out the things that add stress to the parents’ lives and ask how to help. If there’s no concrete suggestion from the parent, be ready to offer specific things.
- For grandparents who live nearby: if the parent is overwhelmed with transportation, offer to step in and help certain days of the week.
- Grandparents who live further away: if the parent is burned out, the grandparent could do weekend babysitting while the parents get away.
- Discuss boundaries. Many parents don’t share the faith of the grandparents. While grandparents look forward to sharing their own faith and beliefs, we will have more success if we respect the parent’s wishes. Sometimes modeling faith can be much more powerful without using words.
Creative Ideas for New Grandparents to Support Parents
Tips for New Grandparents Anywhere
- Once your kids and grandkids know you pray for them regularly, remember to ask specifically what they’d like you to pray for them.
- Learn how to use relevant technology. Grandparents are much more tech savvy than in years past. However there are still a lot of things to learn. Take time to learn how to use the online places, apps, and networks where your kids and grandkids like to hang out.
- Share family stories and family history. We don’t have to wait to be asked. Most families are interested in learning about their heritage.
- Become familiar with the things your grandkids and their parents are interested in. Is there a video game, movie world or activity they love? Become educated so you can share that interest.
Tips for New Grandparents Living Nearby
- Be active in extra-curricular activities. Attend sporting events, award days and every special occasion you can.
- Many schools offer opportunities for parents and/or family members to have lunch with their kids. Grandparents can take advantage of this.
- Offer to help parents by providing baby-sitting and/or help with transportation.
- Find fun activities to get out and about with your kids and grandkids.
Tips for Grandparents Living Farther Away
- Ask your kids to allow a regular online gathering time. There are a lot of options for this. Consider Facebook Live, Zoom, or other ways to connect through technology.
- Remember the power of the written word. Handwritten letters have become a novelty in today’s society. But physical letters can be tangible evidence of how much you affirm young parents and the role(s) they’re fulfilling. Becoming your grandchild’s pen pal can be a way to stay involved in the lives of family who live far away.
- Share pictures. Kids and grandkids love your pictures as much as you love theirs. You can also scan old photographs and share those as well.
- Plan a special gathering regularly. Depending on the distance this could be monthly, quarterly or even yearly.
Final Thoughts for New Grandparents
Grandparents provide a vital link for families. A grandparent is another adult who provides love and stability—to parents and to grandkids. They often provide the perspective of experience.
Because they have already raised children, they can be visual encouragement of having been there and survived. They also provide continuity and are a visual reminder of a family’s legacy. Your involvement and support takes work. But the results are more than worth the effort.