Just the other day, I was at the Rite Aid buying some emery boards for Bambino fingernails when the store clerk noticed his onesie. It read, “If mommy says no, ask grandma.” The store clerk said, “I know that’s right. I need to get that from my grandchild.”
She was telling me that her son’s girlfriend was about to have a baby in December and she was telling the girl, ‘That’s my baby now.‘ The store clerk said that the girlfriend was like, ‘What’ nervously as if this woman would take her child away from her. I said to her, “I guess it must be an exciting time for grandparents when they have their first grandchild.” She nodded in agreement and said that she probably will be there at the delivery too; like it was a given. I had to think back on when my parents was excited about having their first grandchild and had these horrible flash backs of how it seem like they saw my son as their son and wanted to jokingly “Keep him and run away with him.” Are they serious? Sometimes I wonder. If you’re becoming a grandparent, it’s exciting for you as well as your child but here are a few things you need to remember:
1. Don’t assume that you would be invited into the delivery room: I know you want be in the delivery room to see your first grandchild being born but before you speed down the highway running every red light to get to the hospital; ask if it’s ok first. Some couples just want to share the birth of their child by themselves and don’t want to make it a spectator sport. Besides, maybe the mother doesn’t want everyone to see her vaj-jay and coming from it is an emerging big ole head of the baby splitting her vaj-jay wide open. Kind of embarrassing don’t you think? If it’s ok with them fine, but please, PLEASE ask first.
2. The baby is not your own baby: Ok, unless you were the one pushing out the baby, don’t be the first one to hold the baby. Don’t joke about it’s your baby, or you’re keeping the baby for yourself or you want to take the baby and never come back. It’s not funny, not even remotely funny. It’s very unsettling. Don’t try to take over and be the first to change or feed the baby. You do have children of your own right? Didn’t you raise your babies? Give the new parents a chance to raise theirs. It’s only fair.
3. Don’t assume that you’re on babysitting duty: Don’t go off changing your spare bedroom in your house into a nursery assuming that you will be babysitting every weekend. Offer to babysit if the couple needs it but don’t imply that you will babysit by mentioning, “I already repainted your old room and made it into a nursery, with a crib and diaper changing station all ready for when I babysit my grandbaby.” It’s not good to guilt trip your way in the babysit gig. Check with the couples schedule before you go out and spend money on decking out a nursery. It will save you money in the long run.
4. Don’t try to parent you’re grandchild. You had your turn: When your child is trying to parent your grandchild, don’t intervene by saying something like; ‘Don’t dress him in that! Here, let him wear this shirt that grandma had brought him’. Or ‘Don’t coddle the baby, you’re spoiling him’. Or the infamous ‘We didn’t do this or we didn’t do that when we were raising you.’ In other words, ‘Raise my grandbaby the way I want you to’. You had your chance to parent your child, it’s your child and their partners turn. In order words, BACK OFF! Which leads me to….
5. Don’t override your children’s rules especially right in front of your grandchild: This one really gets under my skin. Don’t override your children’s rules when it comes to your grandchild, especially in their own house. I find that rude and disrespectful to the parent who is trying to establish an authoritative figure to your grandchild. When the parent tells your grandchild, “No more TV after dinner,” don’t say, “If you eat all your dinner, then you can watch more TV.” You just overruled the parent and now your grandchild won’t take their parents seriously because they would see that Grandma/Grandpa have more authority than their parents. Don’t power trip. No matter how you may think their parent rules are unfair, it’s their child, their house, their rules.
6. Don’t ridicule the new parent’s parenting style: You have to understand that the new parents are probably not going to raise your grandchild the way you raised your child and that’s ok. You have to realize that the parents will incorporate both of their up bringing to raise their child. The way you raised your children is not the only or best way to raise them. Let them raise their child the way they see fit. If your grandchild is happy, then what’s the problem?
7. Get use to your child telling you what to do: Yes, you have raised kids before. Yes, you know what you are doing. Do they have to tell you to change the diaper when it’s wet every time you watch your grandchild? You have to understand that they will tell you what to do. They are going to tell you not to do this or you can’t do that. Some are within reason and some you may think is ridiculous. I know being the parent, you’re not use to taking orders from your child and you may be offended that your child is telling you how to handle their baby. Don’t take it personally. There is some insecurity in them being first time parents and if you have to humor them until their confidence in your babysitting skills are build up, just nod and say ok.
8. Share your grandchild with the other grandparent: Don’t assume your grandchild will be over every holiday every year and don’t try to keep them or make plans with them every weekend. The other grandparent would like to share in the happiness in their grandchild too. Maybe the other grandparent can see their grandchild on Thanksgiving and you have them on Christmas or vice versa. Work it out with the parents a time that works best for everyone including spending the night schedule. Be flexible especially if you see your grandchild the major of the time.
It is an exciting time for new grandparents when their grandchild is born. Sometimes it seems like the grandparents are more excited than the parents themselves. Grandparents don’t have to feel like they need to take over and be the parent of their grandchild. Raising a child is nerve reckoning and what new parents need is for their parents to be in a supportive role in their journey to raise their child together. When you were a new parent, you probably didn’t want your parents interfering in the way your raised your children. Let your child get the chance to raise their children and if you’re confident that you’ve raised a kind, decent human being, your child will also raise a kind, decent human being as well.