What makes a good grandparent?

Filed under: Relatives, Activities: Babies, That's Entertainment

From the second my son was born, one thing was apparent: my parents were born to be grandparents. Unlike their initial birth experiences, this rebirth into grandparenthood was painless. They came out the other side with eyes open and a bank of knowledge that they were ready to impose upon me put to good use.

The most dramatic shift was in my father. The man I knew growing up was distant and reserved with his affections. He bristled when we tried to hug him and had a hard time saying, "I love you." This very same person now happily picks up my son for a surprise kiss or hug. A quick phone call has my father racing down the expressway to export Nate back to their house for the weekend.

My mother-in-law, with her incredible energy levels and big heart, won't hesitate to get down on hands and knees to play at Nate's level, but she wouldn't cancel movie plans for the chance to see Nate. My father-in-law is the master of storytelling, making hilarious faces and putting on voices, framed by his lush British accent, but has a tough time getting motivated to come for a visit on his own. My mother excels at the caretaking aspects of childcare –- feeding, changing, bathing -- but it's hard for her to get down on the ground to push toy cars around.

All of these styles have their merits and we are fortunate to have both sets of grandparents still healthy and near enough to visit regularly. Their different personalities and diverse backgrounds (Armenian, Norwegian, and English) only enhance my son's view of the world.

There are grandparents who out of their way to help their children with the grandchildren. Others want very little to do with their grandchildren. For those who feel that their parents could use a little assistance, this new book from the UK should help point them in the right direction. The Grandparent's Book is "Dr. Miriam Stoppard's personal, practical & wise guide to how to be the kind of grandparent every child (& parent) wants." As Dr. Stoppard explains her roll as grandmother to 10 in this Guardian piece, "Parents have so many domestic pressures: they're worried about money, jobs. A grandparent has a bigger menu to draw on. Your children may appreciate all the help you give them, but your little grandchildren want to show you everything because they know you're a guaranteed source of praise."

What's your idea of a good grandparent?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.