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A shocking part of being a new grandparent

Updated on July 1, 2015
Mary Belknap profile image

Mary Belknap Ph.D. has been educating children and young adults over 40 years in public education. She has taught all ages.

When our first granddaughter was born I thought, “Wow, I can’t wait to help with this darling little girl.” I was prepared and ready to take care of my granddaughter. I had raised three daughters, loved children, earned a master’s degree Child Development, and taught parenting skills to others.

Fear of being left out

In amazement, my husband and I experienced something shocking. Little did we remember each parent has their own way of thinking about being a new parent. How they want their child cared for was a choice they had earned. An innate fear began to set in for us. Might they not trust us? If our behavior is offensive, or our child care giving is not what they expect, will we not be included in this baby’s life? From the onset, it was clear; these new parents had their views and desires. How will we fit into the life of this new grandchild? Here are some thoughts I would like to share with grandparents.

Respect new parent choices

Our adult children want life to be a bit different as they navigate their new roles in parenting. As we discovered, it is important to respect their choices in regard to diapering, bathing, sleeping, feeding, noise levels, to name a few. These could be topics of possible debate. Of course, they don’t have to be, and may not occur. One never knows what new parents might adopt as important or what new ideas they have learned in preparation for their child. Patiently, let the process unfold and allow the young parents to take the lead. If they ask for advice, offer what has worked for you. Be careful not to continually offer advice. Don’t hesitate if asked. Also important is not to over discuss the advice offered. This simple guide has proven to be so helpful in maintaining a genuine grandparent relationship.


Changes in grandparent role

Be prepared for changes in the grandparent role. Infancy is just the beginning. We have all learned lessons about infants but learning continues for all two parent and single parent families, along with the grandparents. Also, the same applies; help is available if needed, from accessible grandparents if desired. Lessons may vary, from relatives, reading, and yes, even some from our children who are new to parenting.

There are many, many new experiences and topics grandparents encounter in each step of the developing grandchild. As we adjust to the changes, accommodations requested by the new parents are made. We might not always agree, but trusting our young parents as they learn about caring for their baby is essential. Be mindful, rules often change as second and third grandchildren come along. The desire to spend as much time as possible holding, snuggling, and loving our beautiful new grandchild is ever present. Therefore, building this new trusting relationship is essential.

Growing relationships

Those of us who are grandparents adore our grandchildren. As a joyous new grandparent, try to be open, quiet, loving, and patient. As my mother told me when I became a frustrated new parent and I finally sought her advice, “This too shall pass, in each stage there are changes.” Grandchildren are well worth all the love we are ready to share. And, the new growing relationships we develop with their parents are well worth our patience.

“Surely, two of the most satisfying experiences in life must be those of being a grandchild or being a grandparent. Donald A. Norberg

Mutual respect

I respect my daughters’ and son-in-laws’ parenting choices and value how they guide their children. Their roles change from responsible adults, to husband and wife, and now to parents raising young children has been so fulfilling to observe. We enjoy our grandchildren in every respect. Mutual trust has developed. If they ask for our advice, our help is there. We also respect their wishes when they request us to follow a process they wish for their children. Those initial shocking days of becoming new grandparents have passed.


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    • Mary Belknap profile image

      Mary Belknap 21 months ago

      Yes, things do change. Amazingly, the more our adult children learn about parenting and the more children they have the more they seek and respect advice. Life is truly a process!

    • Mary Belknap profile image

      Mary Belknap 2 years ago

      You are so right about watching and learning. Some things do change, as in many experiences in the cycle of life. Amazingly, some new trends or fads fade and the tried and true often return.

      When one considers the study of children as a formal topic did not occur until the last 50 years or so, we are continue to grow, learn, and improve. One simple example is diapers. Look at the change in this area. Cloth to wet sensitive, color coded, and sized disposable with favorite outside characters decorating the diaper.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Things change. I remember my Mom saying, "Let's look it up in the book. It's been a while since I had a new baby." It built confidence in me. I tried to remember that when my daughter made me a "Granny." I would never have believed a baby would sleep on its back - but they do! Many things have changed for the better, but it's hard sometimes to watch and learn.