Tips on Preparing to Become the Best Grandparents
What Can Grandparents Do?
How to Wait for Your First Grandchild
Your son, or your daughter have just learned that they are expecting a baby, their first. They're impatient to have their very own family.
So are you.
The pregnancy might be sublime. It may be hell on earth. Your family-to-be may be near you, or far away. You may be very wealthy, or not so. You may be secure in your relationship with your children and be truly needed, or there could be estrangement. It's a 'life' story. It's going to be different each door you knock at.
While Mummy and Dad wait for the birth of their baby, here are tips on preparing to become the best Grandparents -
- To be useful?
- To feel useful?
- To get through the nine months without being a nuisance, or a bore, or heavy handed with advice?
- To get it right when baby arrives, (be a part of it or a step aside for a day or two)?
- To give the right gift or a thousand gifts?
- To be or not to be?
- To do or not to do?
My article suggests how to create a very real bond between yourselves - even if you are distanced from your future grandchild physically, geographically or familialy.
- Write your grandchild a letter, which is your personal history of the family they will become a part of.
- Feel sure you are connecting with your them - through the gift of a Family Tree that you make them.
- Have some fun making things for the baby - passing the time through those nine months of waiting!
How to Wait for New Baby
Writing Memorable Letters
When I was about 10 years old, my paternal grandmother read to me a letter that my father (her only son) had written to her from a German prison of war camp during the Second World War, which had been smuggled to her in the heel of the shoe of a friend.
My father had been shot during the Normandy Landings and his whereabouts had been uncertain. The letter told of being injured - but alive. Sadly my Grandmother's possessions did not come my way. I don't know what happened to this letter.
But I have the memory of that afternoon. I can see my Grandmother's brown linoleum floor, our shared bacon and egg pie, the blue ink-teared, closely written pages of my father's young handwriting. I could almost see my father.
In my own letter to my first grand daughter I told her all about it so that she will know and feel tenderness for her family that came before her - and from whom she came.
Write a Personal Letter
Meaningful gifts between yourselves and your grandchildren are going to be intimate, personal and create a depth of experience which bond you to each other for life and which venture beyond the mundane.
Linking your existence to theirs through writing a letter makes sense of your mutual history! It's your own way to talk to them. (Writing your letter by hand would make your letter more emotionally personal.)
You may want to tell them about your own parents, siblings, family members (and their recollections). It will be fascinating for your grandchild in their future to know exactly where their blood relations came from - which town, in which country? When? What careers did they have, or wished they could have had? Did they fight or die in any wars? Who were their friends? Did they spend time in prison or on a Kibbutz or on a PHD in New Zealand? Did they babysit someone famous? Were they Olympic swimmers? Beauty Queens? Nearly? Did they win horticultural prizes? Where are they buried? What are the words on their graves?
You can enrich your life and theirs with decorative detail. Elaborate on what you or other members of your family remember of their homes, pets, cars, guns and journeys - whatever. Fill it with anecdotes that stick in your mind. You could add a few photographs to your memories. (You remember that Aunty May had two different colored eyes for instance. Or you want to tell your grandchild your first memory of the orange nasturtiums tumbling down the front steps of your first house. You had nasturtiums in your wedding bouquet. Your mother was the most beautiful young woman in her village).
What language or dialect did they speak, or their fathers speak?
Since this letter is so very personal from-you-to-just-your-Grandchild it is important to ensure that your Grandchild will receive it (and be able to keep it). You may want to consider the pros and cons of:
- Giving it to them when they are born
- Keeping for when they are older
- Entrusting it to your spouse, or lawyer, to give it to them in the case of your death.
- Mention it specifically in your will. Leave a copy with your lawyer.
A Family Tree Wall Painting
- Genealogy, Family Trees and Family History Records online - Ancestry.com
Discover your ancestors with the world's largest family history website. Start a family tree, browse census records and more online at Ancestry.com
A Genealogy Chart
Make Your Own Time Line or Family Tree
Being diplomatic and respecting the new parents wishes is the number one rule of thumb - always. Remember what it was like when you were first pregnant and just how much you desired to create your own new family nucleus? These are tender times for the new family; so it's best to be diplomatic and wait for their cue. If they need you, they will reach out!
If you live too far away, or you are disabled or estranged, or you don't feel it is appropriate to offer assistance for now, or you physically can't help your family through their pregnancy time, there are ways to feel involved with this birth (and consecutive births).
You can create a meaningful link between yourselves. You could begin an heirloom as a gift! You could begin work on a Family Tree for instance, which can be passed down through your family for generations.
If you haven't clicked on any genealogy sites yet, now is your opportunity. Nine months may not be enough time to fill in the branches of your Tree but it is a fine way to fill in those months. This is a research job that Grandfathers can do too.
You might not get the Tree done before the baby is born because it's a research job that can take time, (depending on how far back in line you want to go - on both sides of the family), but it can be a 'works in progress' and it will be finished one day!
A fellow hub writer has written eloquently about how to make a family time line and the links to these articles are included here.
Surprising Facts about Grandparents
They represent 1/3 of the population.
72% think being a Grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.
They are younger than ever before. 43% become Grandparents in their late 50's.
45% of Grandparents are on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Yahoo! Groups.
10% Grandparents have a tattoo; they are more modern.
My Cross Stitch Sampler Picture
Congratulations on New Baby
For Grandmothers who are experienced knitters or lace makers, cross stitchers or embroiderers there is no way to get you out of the craft shop. You'll have already put the bows on several pairs of baby booties, made your own octopus booty- holder and wrapped the baby's package up ready for the day. But to those of us who have never even made a paper hat, now is the time to develop some new talent.
I'm a Baby Boomer myself and like so many of us, I spent the first ten or twenty years of my adult life experimenting with new life styles oh so different from my mothers or my fathers and certainly different from my Grandparents! I did not have time to mess around with patchwork quilts (as my younger sister did) or bobble hats or lace table centerpieces.
But when I learned I was about to become a Grandmother I dashed online and searched for the prettiest sampler in the world. I placed my order. It arrived by post in no time. Then the first series of problems cropped up which made me wish I had been a bit more like my Grandmother. How do you cross stitch?
I studied and restudied the following video until I learned how to cross stitch and become an expert! The fruits of my labor are here; little nursery characters on a shelf waiting for baby to play with. Stitch by stitch I waited for my grand daughter for nine months, loving her, loving her, loving her.
Now I'm making another baby sampler for a second grand daughter.
How to Cross Stitch
Grandfather in Art
What Can Grandfather Do?
Since Grandparents control 75% of the wealth of the USA and have the highest average income, you could make a trip to the bank, or to your lawyer to organize a will for your Grandchild - for all your grandchildren. You may want to set up something to help them with their studies, if your children are so inclined, (when they will need some financial assistance). And have your lawyer write all about it.
Future Grandfather may go to his tool shed and nail up a frame on which to pin the aida fabric to cross stitch.You can make a palette to hold the color coded chart of threads for the cross stitch masterpiece.
When the cross stitch picture is perfectly finished, after the baby's name is cross stitched onto the flag in the middle of the picture, you can frame the picture or rush it to the framers!
There are no end of jobs you can do to participate in the arrival of your new Grandchild. You may even want to make something artistic yourself. A fellow Hub writer wrote a wonderful Hub about 'How to Paint Rocks'.
Patchwork Quilt Fabric Squares
How to Make a Patchwork Quilt
Not all of us have the natural confidence to believe that we can Grandparent well enough, or in a way that will fit in with others ideas of what a Grandparent should be. Certainly cross stitching a beautiful picture is a great boost to our ego and goes a long way to helping us feel useful. Clever even. Grandparent proper.
There are other lovely objects that we can learn to make. Perhaps knitting the first baby sweater is not for the completely inexperienced knitter but perhaps sewing odd scraps of material together to make a baby quilt isn't beyond us.
It is time for Grandparents to learn new tricks too. Being a 'know it all' Grandparent is really boring. Besides we don't know it all. Grand parenting is yet another learning experience which is fraught with secret mine fields.
Loving your new family member is the easy part. Showing your love often requires a diplomatic tact you need to cultivate - and very quickly if you want to be allowed to stick around.
If you have a ton of money, why not buy a bar of gold, spend over $55000 on it and put it in a bank somewhere for a rainy day? Have your Grandchild's name carved on it too.
If you don't have a ton of money there are some less expensive but nevertheless original ideas for your grandchild, after baby shower gifts have been received and the dust (or is it talcum powder) has settled.
Here are a few items that are very special.
- Music boxes
- Antique dolls
- Musical instrument such as a flute, or an oboe, or a violin
- Collection of illustrated first edition children's books
- Lord of the Rings Collection of Pewter Mugs
- An original print or painting or portrait, signed, with a dedication to your Grandchild from you, Grandparents - with date of birth.
And if money is, was and always will be a problem, there is always the piggy- bank method of putting money together to pay for something practical, later on - for the always needed very-nice-when-new cotton vests, fleece lined pajamas, a waterproof pram cover.
I asked my nieces what they love most about their Grandparents and they said:
"It's do do with the warm cosy hug or being wrapped by them in a soft towel and knowing you're in the arms of experience"
"My Nanny is warm, she loves and giggles. She's always there for me to reach out to and has neither expectations nor criticisms"
It isn't their Grandparent's economic situation that they love, it is who they are and the special kind of grandparent's love that they are wrapped-up-tight in.
Link to Other Hubs about Older People
- The Joys and Trials of Grandparenting
Being a grandparent can be difficult - here are some tips for being a good grandparent.
- Games on the iPad for the Elderly
Playing games on the The New iPad is a fun way for the elderly to constantly be in touch and connect with family and friends. Just two fingers tapping on a light portable screen is all it takes, it's so easy! Through playing games with apps like 'Wor
© 2012 Penelope Hart
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