Having a baby is not only exciting for the parents, it’s also exciting for the parents of the parents. Becoming a grandparent starts before the baby is born, and it’s up to you to show support for your son or daughter as they become a mother or father. Everyone involved will be going through a period of adjustment, and that’s especially true if it’s your first time becoming a grandparent.
First Reactions are Vital
No matter what your initial reaction is when you learn that you’re going to become a grandparent, always smile. You might be concerned about how your child will take care of their newborn if they aren’t in the best financial position, but those are concerns that can and should be put on hold. Even if you are pleased with the news, make sure that you ask the expectant parents if they mind if you to spread the news to others or if they’d like to keep it a secret for now.
Know Where You Stand
Remember that you’ve already had a chance to be a parent and do things your way, so let your child do it their way. If they want to have a home birth, don’t try to pressure them into having their child at a hospital. You can offer suggestions for the name of the baby, but remember that the finals decision is up to the parents. Now you’re starting to understand how the future relationship you have with your grandchild will start to develop before they’re born. In some ways, being a grandparent starts with your relationship with the parents-to-be.
Focus on the Good Things
If your child is nervous about being a parent, share some stories about your experiences being a parent for the first time. What were some of your fears and how did you overcome them? Focus only on the positive and share funny stories and moments to put the expecting parents at ease. Steer clear of negative anecdotes unless you feel that they’ll make your child feel better about their own fears.
Pay Attention to the Mother-to-Be
Women who are having their first child might be nervous about being mothers and about the changes that are going on in their bodies. Understand that they might not be as interested or concerned with the activities, lives and thoughts of others. It’s not that she’s being selfish, just that she has a lot of think about. Once the baby is born, her perspective will shift and some of her fears will be put to rest. One piece of advice I’d offer concerning the period after the mother gives birth is that you should be on the lookout for signs of depression or sadness.
Don’t Spend Too Much Money on the Baby
It’s natural to be excited about becoming a grandparent and wanting to snatch up all kinds of clothes, toys and baby equipment. Before you max out your credit card, stick to the basic baby items and equipment and ask for the parent’s opinion about what they’d like for their child. Some parents don’t mind getting bags full of clothes and baby items while others would like to take care of most of the shopping themselves. If the latter is the case, I would suggest that you and the expecting parents go shopping together and let them pick out what they like and you could pick up the tab. That way you get to buy clothes for the baby and the parents don’t have to pretend to like seven onesies you bought.
Don’t Make Any Major Life Decisions
Just as you shouldn’t get too exciting about shopping for the baby, nor should you start making dramatic shifts in your life in anticipation of becoming a grandparent. There’s no need to adjust your work schedule or plan a move to be closer to your child and grandchild. Take a moment to let things play out to see how much you’ll actually be needed as a grandparent. While you might not mind babysitting every now and then, think about how much work and attention babies require before you volunteer to be a full-time day care center. Remember what it’s like staying up with a fussy baby and trying to get them to go to sleep? If you didn’t care much for it when you were younger, think of how much you’ll love it now that you’re older.
One last piece of advice is to let the parents be the parents. Offer to help out, but don’t overdo it. By stopping by for a visit and doing everything in the house that you think needs to get done, you might be inadvertently sending a message that the new parents aren’t capable of handling things on their own. Tread carefully around new parents and only step in when you see that you’re needed and you’re sure to be the best grandparent ever.