Becoming a grandparent can be a wonderful thing. No matter if you’re prepared or not, being a grandparent comes with its own unique challenges and rewards. It’s not the same as having your own children, it’s a whole different experience that can be enjoyed in its own right.
It can also be daunting. Lots of things have changed since we brought up children of our own. The world is a different place, technology has moved on and our children may want to make different choices as parents to the ones we did. Even though they’re parents themselves, our children will probably still seek advice and need help and support from us as grandparents.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of those different ways you can prepare for being a grandparent.
A new role
Being a grandparent means beginning a new role in life. It can give your life a whole new meaning and often fill a space that you didn’t know was missing. This may be especially true if you don’t have a partner, or perhaps feel that your life was more fulfilling when your children were living at home. New life has entered your family and with it, a new definition of everyone in it.
As a grandparent, you’re probably not the sole carer or disciplinarian. This often gives you a bit more free reign to treat grandchildren to things they may not get to do at home so often. Although this may result in getting you in trouble occasionally, it’s one of the pleasures of being a grandparent!
As a grandparent, you may also get to experience some of the things you most enjoyed doing with your own children.
Get ready to give support
Although our children have likely left home by the time they have children of their own, this doesn’t mean they don’t need or want support. Watching your children become parents can be an extremely fulfilling journey, even if it isn’t always a smooth one!
Being a grandparent can often mean you are needed for all kinds of things, from advice to childcare. Your children may be independent and wish to figure out parenting on their own, or they may need your help frequently. Either way, any support you can offer will be invaluable to your children and grandchildren.
A grandparent is often a source of constant love and support for many children. When a grandchild gets older, they may often turn to you for help too. If your grandchild's relationship with their parents is going through a rough patch, as the older, more experienced member of a family it’s often the grandparent who can work to mend bridges and offer sage advice.
Be prepared to get busier
Be ready for being the go-to childminder, last minute arrangements, late night and early morning calls and for enjoying every (or most of every) minute.
Your time may not feel like your own for a while, so if there’s anything you think you can’t handle - tell your children in advance. For example, don’t promise that you will take care of the grandchildren whilst the parents are at work, only to go back on that promise once your grandchildren are born. Be honest with yourself and your children about when you can help out, it will be easier for everyone to make plans when you know each others boundaries!
Advice isn’t always welcome
It’s natural to want to give advice about something that you’ve done before - especially if it’s to your own children who you raised yourself. Much of this advice may be very welcome or will be asked for specifically but some advice you may give could prove unpopular.
So many things from technology to education, travel to culture may have changed in the time between when you became a parent for the first time. Your children will be trying to navigate a different world to the one you did, just as your parents before. Your children are raising your grandchildren in a way that they believe is correct, so if they ask your advice, give it to the best of your ability but whether they take it or not is a different question.
Jump in the deep end
Sometimes you can’t really prepare for being a grandparent, you just have to jump in at the deep end! Just like being a parent, everyone’s experience is slightly different and everyone has a different family dynamic. Just go with the flow and if in doubt, make it up as you go along!