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    « Picture this: When Mom had her day | Main | Twenty-one years of MS, plus the GRAND Social »

    36 tips for new grandparents

    I've been a grandma for about five years now. I've learned much in that time, from my own experience as well as from the amazing Grilled Grandmas.

    One thing I've learned for sure is that no matter how long I've been a grandma, there's always more to learn. Which means that although these tips — culled from my heart and the Grilled Grandma archives — are intended for new grandparents, there's surely one or two even the most-seasoned grandma or grandpa can put to good use.

    tips for grandparents

    • Be prepared to be unreasonably crazy in love. The love for a grandchild is unlike anything you’ve felt before.

    • Be gentle with Mom and Dad — even when they don’t do things your way.

    • Don't be afraid of acting silly.

    • Give the parents all the love and support you can muster.

    • Make no comparisons, good or bad, to your other grandchildren.

    • When the parents drive you nuts, smile instead of screaming, as they hold the keys to baby visits.

    • Have lots of pictures taken of you with them — especially if you're typically the one behind the camera.

    • Be available to the parents for advice, but never give it — or your opinion — unless asked.

    • And when the parents don’t put your requested advice to use, bite your tongue.

    • Get extra time with baby by volunteering to change the diapers.

    • Don’t expect perfection — from the child, the parents or yourself.

    • Respect the wishes and rules of the parents.

    • Always let your grandchildren know you love them, in whatever fashion is comfortable for you.

    • Let them know you’ll always be honest with them, too, and that they can trust you.

    • Kiss them every chance you get.

    • Get down on the floor and play with them.

    • Remember that grandchildren are not their parents. Nor are they your children.

    • Be someone the parents enjoy having around... so they'll have you around often.

    • Make every effort to see and be with your grandchildren so they get to know you, always know you.

    • Get advice on equipment, toys and more from other grandparents and young parents.

    • Leave the parenting up to the parents.

    • Don't worry about material things you are unable to give.

    • Visit garage sales for toys, books, and furnishings (but never, ever for car seats, bicycle helmets, or other safety equipment).

    • Don’t compare yourself to other grandmothers.

    • Break your bad habits now, before the grandchildren copy you.

    • Establish rules for your home when the kids are visiting, but be sure to never cross parental boundaries.

    • Remember you are still a parent, not just a grandparent. Your child still wants you to consider his or her interests, concerns, achievements.

    • When grandchildren visit, remember there is nothing they can break that you can’t live without.

    • Don't take togetherness for granted; circumstances can change in an instant.

    • When you’re the caretaker, get specifics — what the child needs, what the parent wants, and what time parents will return.

    • Take the time to make the time with your grandchildren memorable.

    • Be yourself and give of yourself.

    • Enrich your grandchild’s life with more you, less stuff.

    • Practice patience.

    • Be a calm, loving, and engaged presence in your grandchild’s life.

    • Love, enjoy, and appreciate every single moment.

    Photo: Yes, that's me with Baby Mac (who's no longer <sniff> a baby).

    Today's question:

    What would you add to the list?

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    Reader Comments (15)

    Great list! I'm having a difficult time adding anything, but perhaps?

    Make your home kid friendly, so that your Grandchildren feel comfortable and welcome while there.

    Establish small 'rituals' or 'inside jokes' with each Grandchild. It makes them feel they are!

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNonnieKelly

    I think you sort of covered it with "Respect the wishes and rules of the parents." More specifically, I'd add don't give age-inappropriate gifts or noisy, obnoxious or difficult to store gifts.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPammeey

    Enjoy reading lots of stories to them especially those stories you loved when you were a child.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Kersley

    Amazing how quickly Baby Mac has grown! Awesome list! I would add
    -- buy a digital camera if you don't already have one. Then buy a backup battery for it. I guess everyone uses their phones these days but I still like a camera.
    -- get the Grandfather involved. To often it seems they just take the role of observer.
    I love Pammesy's comment about the noisy gifts -- we keep those here so that Amara can have them and Mom and Dad won't go crazy!

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGrandma Kc

    The fact that you work hard to give tips to both new and long-term grandparents is obvious in today's blog. I have no great-grandmother wisdom to add but many of your readers have current tips and all should touch the hearts of grandparents with the concerns of doing a good job at this important effort.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

    Great list, Lisa! You've really covered it. Nice shout-out for all of us Grilled Grandmas too! :)
    I love reading about your boys; love seeing you holding Mac in those early days.....beautiful photo!
    Joan gramcrackercrumbs

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoan Stommen

    This is from one of my awesome daughters-in-law. Establish a tradition between you and your grandchild that is just between you and them. I make photo books for my grandchildren, taking photos of them all through the year around themes set at the beginning of the year. Grandson is on the front cover on the birthday books, granddaughter is on the back cover. Reversed for the Christmas books.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCarol Covin

    LIsa, I just had a new grandson born April 24th - and aren't these absolutely the truth? Yes indeed, girl! What a sweet picture too!

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

    Lovely list Lisa. I would add

    Read to your grandchildren at an early age.
    Sing to them your favourite songs.
    If you live far away from your grandchildren, make a recording of you either reading or singing & send it to them.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    Lisa has asked me to post updates on my wonderful husband Norman.

    Yesterday afternoon we went and saw a heart doctor who also specialises in lung diseases. He told us that Norman's cancer is stage 4. The name of his cancer is Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Unfortunately the type of cancer Norman has is a fast spreading one. It will go to his brain, if it is not already there, however this can only be determined with an MRI, then to his bones and finally his liver. There is a possibility that his lung may collapse, to stop this happening there is a procedure where they put talc in the pleura which will adhere to the wall of his chest. The doctor showed us Norman's pet and cat scans, the mass is huge.

    The doctor has given Norman the okay to travel to New York to see his family for what will be the last time. He will be away for 2 weeks he needs t be back in New Zealand to see the oncologist which will happen in approximately 3 weeks. There are precautions that he will have to take while flying. He is going to have to inject himself with a blood thinner to reduce the risk of getting a clot and wear stockings. I was going to go with him; however as the treatment in New Zealand is exactly the same as the States, and he has promised me that he will not get any treatment there, he is going by himself. The treatment in New Zealand is free, which is amazing.

    I believe that it is important for him to have quality time with his family without my hanging around. The plan is that I will meet him in Auckland when he returns and spend a couple of days without Lucy and Bella. This will give us quality time together.

    As yet we have not told the girls. I am dreading telling Lucy she loves Norman so very much. It is going to break her little heart when we tell her. Norman has a lovely voice and intends to make a tape of his singing for myself, Lucy and his first bio granddaughter, she is due to enter the world July/August.

    Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSally Kabak

    Love the additions, everyone. And the one from Grandma Kc about involving the grandfather is especially important, I think. I admit I personally have a tendency to bulldoze over PawDad when it comes to time with my grandsons. I'm working on it. :-D

    Lisa, as always, you've done a great job with your list. I would add:

    - I recently discovered that when we spend the night with at our daughter's house, she really appreciates it if I offer to sit with the kids so she and her hubby can have a late night date. It works out perfectly. We feed the kids and put them to bed, then Katy and Travis sneak out for a movie or meet friends for drinks.

    - I do something similar to Carol. After every birthday party, each of our Princesses gets a photo album that's all about them and the party. I have it printed and shipped to them so they get a package in the mail that's addressed to them.

    - The other thing we do is give modest birthday gifts, usually a couple of dresses that I make. Instead of an expensive gift, we make a deposit in a savings account for each of the girls. Someday, we hope they'll use it to help with college.

    May 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVicki Valenta

    My heart breaks for you, Sally. I appreciate the update. You, Norman and the family are in our thoughts and prayers.

    May 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterLisa Carpenter

    This is an excellent list! Really useful! I can't think of anything more to add because I think everything is already in here. This is amazing compilation and the tips are really great. Thanks a lot for sharing this! :)

    May 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Dubac

    All of your tips are perfect, Lisa! The only thing I might add is try to spend some quality time with each grandchild on a one on one basis, as they enjoy not having competitor from another sibling or cousin.

    My sympathies to Sally and Norman...wishing them peace.

    May 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPat
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