- Family and Parenting
Grandparenting Tips - How to be a Good Grandparent
Grandparenting is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. Remember how many times you wanted to kill your own offspring when they were rebellious teens? My mom always said that grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your kids when they went through the teenage years. After surviving three teenage daughters at the same time, and now having eight grandkids, I’m convinced that Mom knew exactly what she was talking about!
Before I had grandkids, I used to think grandparents were so silly when they would talk nonstop about their grands and drag out photo albums of the little darlings to share with anyone willing to take a gander. Now I understand. I am one of those people now. I need one of the bumper stickers on my car that reads, “Wanna see pics of my grandkids?” Well do you? I posted a few, just in case.
I am now known fondly as “Nana.” I decided before the first grandchild was born that I was much too young to be “Granny,” and “Grandmother” is just too formal. So “Nana” it is. Whenever I have to dole out discipline, which is rare, I’m the Nananator, and at Christmas, I’m Nanaclaus. Most of the time, however, I’m just plain ol’ Nana.
Although grandparenting is wonderful, it can sometimes be a slippery slope. I sometimes have a problem remembering that the grandkids are not my kids – they all have parents. I do not have final say-so in their lives, as much as I’d sometimes like to. This can create problems. To be a good grandparent, you must also be a good parent.
I’m a big part of my grandkids’ lives, but I try to respect the boundaries and rules their parents have established. If I undermine the parents’ authority, the results would be detrimental for everyone involved. This isn’t always easy to do. Sometimes when the parents are disciplining the grands, I want to rush to their rescue – especially when the little tikes see me as their savior. I’ve bitten my tongue so many times that I have permanent scars. If I ever think the parents are being unfair, I address the issue in private, out of earshot of the grandchildren.
When it comes to spoiling grandkids, I’m a pro. Like most young families, my children cannot afford a lot of extras for the grands, so it’s Nana to the rescue! Not that hubby and I are rich, but at our age, we have more disposable income than most young people, and I spend much of mine on the grands. I enjoy shopping online for nice clothes and shoes, like Ralph Lauren and Timberland, that the kids would be hard-pressed to afford. I love seeing the grands dressed nicely when they go to school and when we take them out.
And speaking of taking the grands out, hubby and I usually try to do something special whenever we keep the grandkids – just little things that the kids don’t get to do on a regular basis with their parents. This might include taking them to their favorite restaurant, taking them to the movies, taking them to an arcade, or just going out for ice cream and eating it in the park.
When it comes to toys, I don’t buy the grands a lot of toys through the year. I do once in a while, but this is usually a special treat. I don’t even buy them a lot of toys for their birthdays. Christmas? That’s a different story! I didn’t earn the name “Nanaclaus” for nothing! Papa and I splurge at Christmas. I start shopping in July or August, and by Christmas Eve, my entire living room and dining room are covered by wrapped gifts. Once they’re opened, my home is transformed into Santa’s workshop…make that Nana’s workshop.
Whenever I spend money on the eight grands, I try to be fair. When I’m shopping for clothes, or for toys at Christmas, I spend the same amount on each child – within five or ten bucks. I keep a list of what clothes I’ve purchased for each kid, so if one little boy gets a pair of Timberland boots, I make sure the other boys get Timberlands, too. I don’t want it to ever appear that I show favoritism.
I think another important aspect of grandparenting is teaching. Maybe it’s just the educator in me, but I’m always sharing knowledge with my grandchildren. Sometimes it might be a new word, or it might be information about life. It might include morals or doing the right thing. Since all my children are Christians, the grands and I sometimes talk about God and Jesus. I don’t force this down their throats, however, but if they have questions, I always try to answer them. I would love for all of them to grow up to be Christians, but I want the choice to be theirs. I would love them just as much if they decide to be Muslim, Taoist, or atheist.
I hope all of you someday have the opportunity to enjoy grandparenting. It’s an amazing experience, but just remember that there are limits you should observe.