What is a great grandma?

Table of Contents

Don’t admit your fears

Your beloved adult child is about to embark on a lifelong commitment about which they understand nothing. So it’s not surprising you’re as alarmed for them as you would be if they were sailing the Northwest Passage in flip-flops. Whichever phrase of warning or concern springs to your lips, however, hold it in. Your child needs support, not dread.

So if you can’t pretend you’re thrilled, find something supportive to say. It will be appreciated.

Don’t project

Perhaps you had a nightmarish birth, featuring forceps, hallucinations and seven junior doctors loitering like women of the bedchamber. Maybe your baby was a shocking sleeper, or refused to eat anything but peas for the first three years. None of this, however, means that your children will have the same experience of parenthood. So while empathy and practical support are useful, constantly referring back to your own parental traumas is not.

Equally, you may have deep-seated fears about certain issues but be aware that these are your issues. Projecting your own terrors is unhelpful at best and damaging at worst. The parents will have enough fears of their own, and your job is to calmly reassure.

Avoid jealousy

“I really don’t understand why she buys our grandson those terrible clothes …” If you’re not careful, your brewing jealousy of the Other Grandma could turn you into a superannuated Mrs de Winter in Rebecca, constantly haunted by your counterpart, living with the building paranoia that she’s somehow better, more loved, and more of a gran than you’ll ever be.

This is often the case when you’re the paternal grandmother because, on the whole, women are better at involving their mums, while plenty of men think a bi-monthly text is the pinnacle of communication. And it can be horribly frustrating when the Other Gran is popping round every 10 minutes, while you’re still navigating a demanding career and live 200 miles away.

But nobody wants to be juggling a new baby and your easily bruised feelings, so barbed remarks about the tastes or childcare practices of the Other Gran are unacceptable. It’s not a competition – it’s a family. Albeit there’s often a fine line.

Only offer what you can give

The general assumption is that grandparents are selfless. But even if you’re retired, you’re used to owning your time and offering flexible childcare can fast become a very long piece of string indeed. So it’s vital to consider how much time you can offer – and make the arrangement as formal as possible. Nobody wants to be sitting round the table with a lawyer; equally, you don’t want your loving offer of two afternoons a week turning into three days, two evenings and a Saturday morning, unless you’re willing.

Be realistic about how much time you have, your levels of tiredness and confidence when it comes to baby-wrangling. It’s easier for everyone when you all know where you stand.

Brush up on your skills

While you may have been able to change a nappy with one hand and puree a cauliflower with the other 30 years ago, it’s likely that you have forgotten more than you ever knew.

Although some of it will return, there are some areas where times have changed. What babies can eat, for example (fish, soya and dairy aren’t recommended for under ones.) Where they sleep – sharing the parental/grandparental bed is seriously out – and how pushchairs work. So don’t go in unprepared – do some research before the baby arrives. Then you can be the competent gran, a steady liner in a sea of wavering parental tugboats.

Be clear about cash

After sweets and bedtimes, perhaps the thorniest issue of grandmother-hood is money. Nobody wants to quote a babycare price to their nearest and dearest, but with almost half of families with children reliant on grandparents for at least part-time childcare, if you spend between three and six days a week at the coalface, is it reasonable to do it all gratis or should you be demanding some recompense for your labour? There’s no rule, though many grandparents find the whole idea of charging distasteful. Plus if you take a wage, you need to be a registered childminder and then it becomes complicated. Some avert the issue by accepting expenses, others just view their costs as part of the grandparental lot. What you must do is clarify your position at the outset.

Break the rules – a bit

As a child, one of the joys of staying with my grandparents was knowing that I could stay up to watch Terry and June, and that my grandma would bring me breakfast in bed. The danger comes when the spoiling isn’t just a little mild indulgence – you’re actively breaking clear rules set by the parents.

So if they have a “no sweets before meals” policy and you’re sneaking your grandchild contraband, you may need to ask yourself why. Do you think their rules are unfair or are they just different from yours? Maybe it’s simply that you can’t bear to refuse your delightful toddler granddaughter anything she asks for. But while 15 minutes tacked on to bedtime won’t hurt, undermining dietary rules or allowing her to watch forbidden TV, is straying into fighting talk. And as soon as she can speak she’ll say “me and granny have got a secret” and you’ll be bang to rights. Remember, a little rule breaking goes a long way.

Don’t spend a fortune

Spoiling, of course, is often just another word for spending. And as a new grandparent, watching your adult children struggle to afford the raft of baby equipment and clothes and toys required can trigger an itchy credit-card finger. Not only will this drain your resources, it may also make your children feel inadequate.

Few parents like to feel that they can’t manage so if you want to buy a gift, consult them first. When it comes to birthdays and Christmas, again, resist the temptation to deliver a pink pony gift-wrapped in a box. If the parents can’t afford much, it’s nothing but show-boating. Keep presents appropriate and affordable.

Manage long distance

There’s a good chance your son or daughter will be living a good few hours’ drive away, if not abroad. Luckily, it’s possible to have a happy ongoing relationship with far-away family nowadays, thanks to Skype and Facetime. Speaking to them in real time, even if it’s a casual chat while you wait for the bus, means you never have to feel far away. Supplementing this is Facebook, email, texting and if your grandchildren are older, Snapchat. So if you pride yourself on being a luddite, the arrival of grandchildren is a good time to wake up and smell the virtual coffee.

Accept that you have no control

The hardest thing about parenting is being responsible for everything. And the hardest thing about grandparenting is accepting that you’re not. You may hate the ironic Velvet Underground T-shirts your baby granddaughter is dressed in, or have severe moral objections to the amount of CBeebies she’s allowed to watch, but saying so is a fool’s errand. The only exceptions to this rule are if you truly believe your grandchild is in danger, or are privy to facts that the parents aren’t, regarding what is and isn’t safe to eat.

The cornerstone of being a good grandparent is respect – for your own time, for the parents’ wishes and, of course, for your grandchild. Before you speak, always ask yourself: Is this helpful to anyone? Unless the answer is a resounding yes; don’t say it. That way, you’ll never go wrong.

• Extracted from Help! I’m a Granny by Flic Everett (Michael O’Mara, £9.99)

Being a knock-your-socks-off grandma or grandpa is fun, sure – but it also takes time and effort. Here’s how to be the best grandparent you can be.

Ask rather than answer

As a grandparent, you have years of parenting experience. You may feel like an expert and see your child – the new parent – as needing your guidance. But in that direction lies disaster.

“Hard as it is, you have to realize it’s their turn to make parenting decisions. Grandparents shouldn’t get in the way,” says Sharon O’Neill, a New York family therapist.

When you offer advice and opinions, no matter how well-meaning, you risk making already nervous new parents feel like you don’t trust them or respect their judgment, says O’Neill. Instead, turn the equation around and let your curiosity lead the way.

Ask them about your grandchild’s likes and dislikes, latest accomplishments, and funny tricks. Tread lightly when asking about feeding, health issues, or sleep habits – you don’t want to be intrusive. Gentle, nonjudgmental inquiries show you care and allow you to support your child through any challenges.

Get silly

Grandparenting can mean all the fun of kids without all the responsibility. So enjoy it! Get down on the floor and play with your new grandbaby. Act out silly scenes with finger puppets, invent stories, and make faces. Save up jokes to tell older kids and watch funny movies together.

Grandmother Sarah Williams made up a special language with her granddaughters when they were young, substituting words so no one else could understand what they were talking about. Now that the girls are older, they’ve started sharing funny video clips with her on Facebook.

“It’s a hoot. My friends see these crazy things that Amelia and Lily post on my page and just laugh,” says Williams.

Beware grandparent rivalry

Avoid the trap of keeping up with Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josie – this will only lead to hard feelings.

“It’s inevitable that one set of grandparents is going to spend more time with the child than the others, but that doesn’t mean anything in terms of the closeness of the relationships,” says Amy Goyer, multigenerational family expert for the AARP and author of Things to Do Now That You’re a Grandparent.

Keep your grandchild’s needs at the top of your mind. There’s no such thing as too much love, after all, and a close relationship with one set of grandparents doesn’t detract from your importance – unless you let it.

Be mellow about mess

Let’s face it, kids are messy. You may have forgotten just how messy! Your best bet is to plan ahead so you’re not dismayed by a piece of toast landing jam-side-down on your white couch.

It’s fine to designate some areas as off-limits and make others child-friendly. Since you don’t want to have to follow your grandchildren around with a sponge, set up a kid eating area where crumbs can fall as they may. You can use a wipe-clean tablecloth and even protect rugs with a floor mat.

You’ll want to keep young grandchildren safe by blocking off dangerous areas and moving valuables and potential poisons out of reach. Our video can show you how to childproof your home, or at least parts of it.

Do things, don’t just give things

It’s tempting to buy the latest toy or game and see your grandchild’s face light up, and that’s fine. But experiences you share are often far more meaningful – and will create memories that last a lifetime.

“My grandchildren eagerly open birthday and Christmas cards to see what experience we’ll be sharing. Two of my grandsons love trains, so we took a three-hour Amtrak trip and had some fun adventures in the little town of Sedalia, Missouri, then rode home again,” says Cathy Svacina, a grandmother of 12.

Document these experiences so they stay in your grandchildren’s memories. “I took pictures and notes and made up a little picture book for them, and they have relived that trip over and over,” says Svacina.

Even a day of babysitting is worth commemorating, she adds. “I’ll take pictures and we come up with a fun story that we make into a book. And when we read the book together, we laugh and have so much fun all over again.”

Don’t be a burden

Be careful of the common pitfall of overenthusiastic grandparents: Making more work for the new parents rather than less.

Amy Goyer of the AARP says she hears from many disappointed grandparents who wonder why they don’t receive more invitations to visit their adult children and grandchildren, seemingly unaware of how high their expectations are and how much effort and work they’re making for others.

As your grandchildren get older, think of ways to spend quality time with them that are helpful to the parents, not intrusive or requiring a lot of organization and planning on their part.

“Come up with fun experiences where all they have to do is show up,” says Goyer.

Avoid playing favorites

Fawning over the dimpled baby while ignoring – or worse, snapping at – the rambunctious 3-year-old sibling is a classic grandparent faux pas.

It’s near impossible not to be struck by the adorableness of whichever grandchild happens to be in the cutest stage. But every child will go through difficult and angelic times, and your job is to love them either way.

“Kids are really smart. If you only seem to like them when they’re on their best behavior or in an ‘easy’ phase, they’ll know this and be wary. It’s the grandparent version of the fair-weather friend,” says Goyer.

The best way to combat favoritism is to make sure your visits include one-on-one time with each grandchild. Kids tend to be at their best when removed from sibling competition, and it’s much easier to get to know a shy child if you’re the only one to talk to.

To make the most of your time together, tailor your activities to your grandchild’s interests. Bring a truck-crazed 4-year-old to a nearby construction site; take a princessy 6-year-old to tea.

Take the lead

It’s your job to stay in touch with your grandchild or grandchildren. If you expect them to do it, you’ll be disappointed and frustrated.

“It’s age-appropriate for kids to be thoughtless about staying in touch. If you want the relationship, you have to be willing to do the work,” says New York therapist Sharon O’Neill.

Remember birthdays, of course, but celebrate other special occasions as well. Send Valentine’s and Halloween cards, or host a valentine-making or costume craft day if you live nearby. Document these and other experiences with photos and videos so your grandchild remembers them.

Follow your grandchild’s milestones closely and ask to be included if possible. (“He just walked? Can I come over and see?” for example.) Acknowledge achievements, from learning to ride a tricycle to the fifth-grade science fair, and request demonstrations.

Ask if you can bring artwork home to put on the fridge. Attend sports games, plays, and dance performances. Cheer loudly, bring flowers, and take everyone out for ice cream afterward.

“As your grandchild grows up, she will remember you as the grandparent who was always there to cheer her on, and that’s priceless,” says O’Neill. Remember, this is your chance to do it all over with just the fun parts.

Be your grandchild’s confidante

You’re an important outlet for your grandchildren because you offer an alternative perspective from their parents. Listen and encourage them to open up to you as much as possible. Don’t limit telephone calls to specific events like birthdays and holidays. Instead, call throughout the year and keep it light and fun.

The first day of school, a tryout, a big game, or a playdate with a new friend are all reason enough to get on the phone. Use video calling if you can – it can be more fun when you can see each other.

Keep track of your grandchild’s interests, the names they give new dolls or stuffed animals, books they’ve been reading – anything you can ask about in the next conversation so they know you’ve been paying attention.

Store and share family memories

The stereotype of the boring grandpa who’s constantly talking about the good old days has unfairly made many older folks afraid to talk about family history, and that’s a loss for everyone.

Instead, be proud of your role as family historian – you’re providing important continuity between the past, present, and the future. Pepper your stories with humor and adventure and keep them short and to the point and the grandchildren will be hooked.

Talk about your own life, but talk about your adult child’s early years as well. As your grandchild gets older, he’ll love hearing funny stories about his mother or father as a kid – including scrapes, exploits, and what life was like back then.

“Think about what you can contribute from your own culture, history, and personality – what can you pass along to the next generation?” says family therapist Christine Lawlor.

And once the grandkids are doing history projects for school, watch out – they’ll want to hear all about your life “way back when” and what it was like to live through events they’ve only read about in books.

Are You Ready to Be a Great-Grandma? Thinking About the Long-term Future

Not long ago, my six-year old grandson took me aback. “Granny,” he asked innocently enough. “Would you do me a favour?” I assumed he wanted another biscuit (cookie) or to watch some more television.

“Granny,” he continued. “Would you and Grand-dad do your very, very best to stay healthy, because I want my children to know their great-grandparents?”

Well, that was surprise! I promised to try. What else could I say?

Thinking About the Future

Like many in the Sixty and Me community, I have not thought much about becoming a great-grandmother. Many of us are not yet grandmothers and taking it to the next step, even for those of us who are, seems a bit far.

And yet, if you have a reflective nature, you have undoubtedly begun to think about the long-term future. It’s not something you think about all the time, but it comes on at odd moments of the day or when prompted by some event.

Of course, you know you are growing older inexorably day by day, but you also know that there are too many unknowns to create a very vivid picture.

The Maturing of the Generations

If you are a grandmother, you may think about the future more readily, because when you are with the grandchildren, it is right there in front of you.

You do wonder what will happen to them. You look at those little smiling childish faces and try to imagine what they will look like when they are older. What will they be like as adults? What will they want to become? And what will the world be like when they get there? Things around us seem to be changing so fast, it is hard to imagine.

You may also wonder about your own children as older adults – although any transformation will not be so great – compared to small children.

But, quite naturally, you will also wonder about yourself. Will you be around in twenty or more years’ time? If so, what will you be up to doing? Will you have stayed healthy, as so eagerly urged by my grandson, or will you be struggling with some major illness? Will you still feel engaged and productive? Will you be happy?

The Satisfactions of Being a Great-Grandmother

This leads me back to that surprising issue of being a great-grandmother. I had never given it much thought. Indeed, I find it hard to imagine.

My older friends tell me it is somewhat like being a grandmother, but the distance in age, and sometimes your own frailty, makes it hard to feel quite so involved.

Of course, it is wonderful to hold a new and related baby in your arms. Indeed, as one friend put it, “To look into the eyes of the next generation.”

Multiple Generations Face-to-Face

If you and your children all started their families early, it will be much easier. You might be a great-grandmother in your sixties, with plenty of energy to take an active role. But for most of us, with children being born later and later, you may feel you need to take more of a back seat. This is not to say that, as the children grow and ask questions, you can’t impart the occasional wisdom. That could be very satisfying indeed.

And if you get there, you will be faced with amazing twin facts affecting your self-image. First, you will have reached the lofty stage of being a great-grandmother. Second, you will have to accept that your once little child is now a grandparent!

How often do you think about the long-term future? Do you look forward to being a great-grandmother? What are your thoughts about the “twin facts” and self-image? Please join the conversation.

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Being a new Grandma is exciting and wonderful! You’re probably getting a lot of advice about Grandparenting, aren’t you? Well, I’ve learned a few things along the way! Let me share with you a few top tips for a first-time Grandmother.

10 Top Tips for a New Grandma

It all starts when you get the news – “You’re going to be a Grandma!”. You may have seen it coming, heard “rumors” that they’re trying, or understand the heartbreak they’ve already been through hoping to become parents. You may have not even seen it coming! However it came to this point, doesn’t matter. Grandparenting has stepped into your future. Are you ready?

1.) Offer advice if asked.

This applies to everything baby-related beginning with the time you hear the news. The parents-to-be will find their way or ask for advice from you if they need it. Baby “procedures” have changed since you became a parent yourself. Give non-judgemental, non-critical advice when asked. It’s a scary thing, being pregnant, wondering what’s in store, for Mom & Dad alike, and taking that new baby home. Especially for first-time parents. Allow them time to find their way, but be there when you’re needed. Be a supportive new Grandma.

2.) Be there, but not in the way.

Let the new parents know you are available and ready to help. But don’t go overboard. Being a new parent can be stressful and challenging. Don’t give them more reasons to worry. Allow them to enjoy their time with their new little family. Be an available new Grandmother.

How Often Should Grandparents See Their Grandchildren

3.) Keep your opinions to yourself.

Suppress the urge to correct, judge or criticize the decisions made about the care of the new baby. Unless you actually see imminent harm coming to the child, it’s better to discuss your concerns with an understanding attitude than the “what in the world are you thinking?” approach. Be a kind new Grandma.

Setting Boundaries for Overzealous Grandparents

A Message to my Grandchildren: Things I Want my Grandkids to Know

4.) Get your home ready.

If you want the chance to babysit or even have your Grandchild visit your home, you need to make it safe and comfortable. Check for dangers and remove or replace what needs attention. Have supplies on hand, like wipes, a few diapers, a blanket, and maybe a crib or portable sleeping arrangements. Your children will be more likely to leave the child in your care or come for a visit if they feel comfortable in your home. Knowing the baby is safe and that a few emergency supplies are available will help to ease their minds. Be a conscientious new Grandma.

5.) Get your camera ready.

As a first-time Grandma, you’ll probably be excited to take photos of this little one. Don’t forget to take your camera, or at least your phone, when you visit. Make your visits the priority, though. Instead of trying for the perfect photo, try for the perfect connection. Have someone else snap a few pictures of you with your new Grandchild. When they are a little older, they will love seeing themselves as a baby and will know that you were there. Be an interested new Grandma.

6.) Start your memory keeping efforts.

Begin the process of memory keeping as soon as you discover you’re going to be a Grandma. Start a journal, record how you’re feeling, write stories of their birth from your perspective. Make a memory book, scrapbook or photo album. You could even start a blog. Choose a method, or a combination of methods, to preserve these precious moments. Babies aren’t babies for very long – help yourself remember the days. Be a storytelling new Grandma.

7.) Pick your name.

What will your Grandchild and future Grandchildren call you? Nana, Mimi, Grandma, Granny? Decide on a name that will distinguish you from other Grandparents. When the parents refer to you, the child will understand that they are talking about you. Be a recognized new Grandma.

8.) Buy a few children’s books.

Reading to a child is a great way to connect. Have books available to read while you snuggle. Hearing your voice, getting to know you, and starting an appreciation for reading early are only a few of the reasons for reading to your Grandchild. Be an educational new Grandma.

9.) Love this child.

Another important tip for the new Grandma – every child is different. No two people are alike, and your Grandchild should be perfect in your eyes. Accept this child unconditionally, expressing your love at every opportunity. They are only little once. Your relationship with your Grandchild starts the first moments you are together. This bond you’re forming will be off to a good start! Be a loving Grandma.

10.) Share the love.

There are other people in this child’s life that want to show their love, too. Be considerate and welcoming of those who want to know your Grandchild. As they say, it takes a village. Graciously giving space to others will serve to enrich your own experiences with your little person. He or she has enough love to go around. Be a generous Grandma.

Here is some advice from other parents and grandparents: Advice for soon-to-be grandparents. Tips from this post were included!

Becoming a Grandparent can be a rewarding, fulfilling experience for everyone involved. Make an effort to be the best Grandma in the world. Babies will see you as a “best” Grandma from the beginning, so start the connection early, and keep it up! It’s SO worth it!

Keep Passing Down the Love,

Grandma’s Tip of the Day: The best things to give your Grandchildren are not material things. Your time and your love are what matter most.

101 Simple Things That Make Me Happy: It’s the Little Things in Life

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5 Tips for Learning How to Be a Grandmother

It is often suggested that babies should be born with a manual, because it is so hard for new parents to work out how best to look after them. We, mothers, know that we managed somehow or other. But now it begins again, as we are faced with being a grandmother.

So how do we learn to be grandmothers?

Be an Instinctive Grandmother

Of course, some people are ‘naturals’ whether as mothers or grandmothers. It wouldn’t occur to them to look for an advice book or to ask friends – they just know how to do it.

I watch these women in awe, as it certainly isn’t me. I didn’t have a clue when my first baby was born, although I was probably a little better by the time I had a second.

Nor, nearly 40 years later, did I have much immediate sense of how to be a grandmother, much less a good one. It certainly didn’t feel natural to me from the start, as it all felt so long ago.

Learn from Our Grandmothers

In my book, Celebrating Grandmothers, where nearly 30 women talk about how it feels to be a grandmother, many explore this issue.

A few describe their own grandmothers in some detail. Of course, those women of the past varied hugely – not only in their social backgrounds but in their behaviour. Some were memorably strict, while others were distinctly full of fun.

My interviewees shared that their experiences of these women had influenced them as grandmothers. Especially in those cases where they had spent a lot of time with their grandmother or she had a strong personality which impressed certain values or attitudes onto them.

This is not my case. I had little to do with my own grandmothers, as one lived too far away – the breadth of the USA was a serious hindrance in the 1950s – and the other had only limited interest in the role. Neither helped me much when my time came.

Learn from Our Mothers

Of course, your grandmother is not the only potential influence in this arena. Our mothers, too, were grandmothers to our children, as were our mothers-in-law.

Some of the women I interviewed felt that they had learned a lot from them, watching how they had played with their children or had taken an interest in teaching them.

But I, again, did not have much luck in this situation. By the time my children were born, my husband’s mother had died, and my own mother was, again, too far away as I had moved overseas. And, as she was a very dedicated career woman, I am not sure how involved she would have been had she lived nearby.

In any case, I had little in the way of role models.

Turn to the Grandmother Experts

Nowadays, we all learn from ‘experts’ on all sorts of issues and being a grandmother is no exception. There are numerous books on “how to be a good granny” – as well as my favourite, “how to be a bad granny.”

There are also a growing number of websites devoted solely to the joys and challenges of being a grandmother or touching on the topic quite frequently. Including, of course, this one.

Many of us have doubtless learned a great deal from their advice – from how to avoid saying the wrong thing to how to cope with modern equipment. But it did not occur to me to look for such information online or in a book.

For example, when I was writing my book, which is definitely not a ‘how to’ book, one friend asked if it would explain how to fold down a modern pushchair (stroller). Perhaps we have all struggled with that one.

Make It Up as You Go Along

I think that most of us make it up as we go along. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

We probably make some of the same mistakes we made as mothers. But I am sure we make many fewer, because – although it may not seem like it when the first grandchild is born – we have been there before.

Like with a second child, the knowledge is just lurking there, waiting to come out. We cuddle and burp the baby without thinking about it. We encourage the toddler to toddle and, as they grow, we talk to the grandchildren about the wonders of life, from the sublime to the ridiculous. It comes naturally.

Some do not want to take a great part in this adventure, but most of us find it enormous fun – and incredibly rewarding.

As we used to say playing tag, “here we come, ready or not” and you are probably readier than you think.

Where did you learn how to be a grandmother? What help were your own grandmothers or mothers? What would you say to a new grandmother? Please share in the comments below.

What I Wish I Knew Before Becoming a Grandparent

Meet Nancy and Tom Biracree. Together, the New York couple has decades of parenting under their belt, which they’ve turned into and several parenting books—including the exalted 1990 tome, The Parents’ Book of Facts. But none of this was any help when their first grandchild was introduced into the world three-and-a-half years ago. Of course, Nancy and Tom thought that they were going to be the best grandparents in the world—given the fact that, you know, they’d kind of done it before—but as soon as their granddaughter was born, they quickly realized how different being a grandparent is than being a parent.

Now that Nancy and Tom have a few years of experience with their first grandchild, they’re not only ready to be the best grandparents possible to their second one arriving in December, they’re also here to share they’re well-earned sage wisdom with any and all grandparents-to-be. So keep reading for some tried-and-true advice.

1 Your opinions aren’t always welcome.

For Tom and Nancy, one of the biggest revelations that came with grandchild number one was that being a grandparent requires you to take a back seat while your child becomes a parent on their own terms. Of course, you can—and certainly should—offer up your expertise when it’s asked for, but the last thing a new parent needs is a vocal backseat driver. ” about being in a supportive but dependent relationship with your child,” says Tom. “In other words, it’s about helping them establish their parenting goals.”

2 Your number-one job is to assist.

When you become a grandparent for the first time, all you want to do is spend every waking moment with your new grandchild. However, there is a fine line between being helpful and being a nuisance, and, as Tom explained, “it should be a relief to have you there, rather than a stressor.”

3 Consistency is key.

Something that came as a surprise to Tom and Nancy was the fact that they couldn’t just freely enter and exit their grandchild’s life as they pleased. “You’re gonna get into a lot of conflict if you try and move in and out of a grandchild’s life without providing the same kind of consistency and support,” explains Tom. When it comes to being a good grandparent, the duo says that you have to be consistent about how frequently you visit, both for the sake of your grandchild and for your own children.

4 Things should never be taken personally.

Of course, it’s natural to bristle when you’re reprimanded for doing something wrong. But a key part of being a grandparent is learning to take your ego out of the equation. “We don’t resent it when we’re told that we’ve gone a little bit too far,” says Tom. Adds Nancy: “This is their baby and they have to do what they think is best. I will respect that.”

5 The kid’s not yours.

As a grandparent, your job is to support your child as a parent and assist them with whatever they need—and the sooner you understand that, the sooner you’ll be the best grandparent possible. Nancy says: “Your baby’s baby is not your baby.”

6 No, you can’t spoil them.

Grandparents look forward to showering their grandchildren with gifts, but what Nancy and Tom learned the hard way is that not all parents want their kids being spoiled all the time. “The way you reward the child and the way you discipline the child is something you’ll have to get on the same page about,” says Tom. “We can get our granddaughter a special treat every once in a while and occasionally do things, but we don’t wanna go too far.” Of course, each parent is going to feel differently about this, but in every situation it’s always best to ask before you buy something.

7 Your child will have different parenting tactics than you.

As people who have successfully raised children of their own, grandparents tend to think that they are parenting pros, and they’re not afraid to make that known when it comes to how their grandchildren are being raised. However, what Nancy and Tom quickly learned as grandparents was that even though they are literal parenting experts, their way of doing things with their own child wasn’t necessarily their child’s way of doing things—and that’s absolutely fine.

“Right from the beginning, we had to understand that our way of parenting thirty-something years ago was totally different than what they’re doing now,” said Nancy. “And so we have to step back and find out what they need and what their purposes are for their child and go along with that.”

8 The opinion of both parents matters.

Every week, Nancy and Tom make a point of sitting down to dinner with Sarah, their son’s wife and the mother of their granddaughter. As they’ve come to learn, her parenting practices are sometimes quite different from their son’s, and so they have found it helpful to talk to her one-on-one and make sure that everything they’re doing with their grandchild is well within reason.

“You wanna make sure that you get the perspective of both parents,” explains Tom. “We arrange to have dinner with Sarah once a week so that we can get her viewpoint and talk to her about issues so that we make sure that we understand her and keep things on the same page.”

9 Making assumptions is about the worst thing you can do.

Something that Nancy and Tom realized early on is that parenting nowadays is drastically different from what it was thirty or even twenty years ago. For instance, Tom says that, when feeding his granddaughter, “we have to be very careful about whole grain bread instead of white bread and all kinds of things like that. The whole idea of nutrition has changed an enormous amount.” Remember: Just because you let your child eat dessert before dinner or watch TV whenever they pleased doesn’t mean that your grandchild is allowed to as well.

10 Your kid deserves your trust.

It’s not going to be easy to keep your mouth shut when you feel like your child is doing something wrong, but “it’s important to know that you need to be able to respect as parents,” says Nancy. If they do try and fail, what you can do is console them as a parent and continue to support them as they try again.

11 Your house should be equipped with safety precautions.

Back when Nancy and Tom were parents to a toddler, the suggested household safety precautions for a child were little more than “blocking off the stairwells and covering electrical outlets.” But today, safety is far more complicated, and grandparents might be surprised to find that parents won’t let their children into their house until everything is set up accordingly. If you aren’t sure how to properly baby-proof your house, talk to your child about what they’ve done in their own home and follow suit.

12 Your vaccinations need to be up-to-date.

A baby’s immune system is at its most vulnerable, and so most new parents will require everyone visiting a newborn—even the grandparents—to be up-to-date on vaccinations. ” weren’t even allowed to see the baby until we got our vaccinations,” says Tom. “These were things we never even thought about as parents that are routine today.”

13 All of your familial relationships will change.

“Understanding the relationship of a grandparent for me has helped relationships through our entire family,” says Tom. “We’ve learned a lot about and have come to appreciate and fine-tune more the relationships with the rest of our family by working really hard at this grandparent-child relationship.”

10 Reasons Why Your Grandma Is The Greatest Woman In Your Life

I don’t know about you, but my grandma is the best.

She is hilarious and doesn’t really care about too much anymore, so her life is all fun.

She doesn’t like to stress herself out, and she doesn’t want to work too much. She loves her Sudoku because it’s easier than crossword puzzles, and she used to like to cook until she discovered that salad is just as good as anything else.

She can’t hear too well anymore, so she slips out embarrassing comments about me and my family during dinners.

But honestly, my grandma is the most entertaining lady I know.

No other woman in your life will quite compare to your grandma. She’s the ultimate friend, and she always has the best advice to offer you. No girlfriend, best friend, aunt, niece or cousin will ever outdo your grandma.

The list of reasons as to why your grandma is the best never really ends, but here’s a good start:

1. She cooks the best food

Many grandmas can cook, even if they don’t do so anymore. They somehow know the recipes to every dish on earth, and they can tell you what to substitute for the most random of ingredients.

Your grandma can somehow make a seemingly boring salad into a five-star dish. Even her scrambled eggs are incredible.

2. She has too much love

Grandmas love everything and everyone. She will love almost every significant other you bring home, even if he or she is absolutely unfit for you.

She will try to love him or her as much as you do, even if she lovingly says, “I told you so” when you two break up.

3. She never gives up

Grandmas have made it too far in life to give up on anything. My grandma can barely drive, and we still can’t get her to let go of her car.

She teaches us that we shouldn’t subject ourselves to or listen to anyone else’s ideas about our lives. We should do whatever we please until the day we die.

4. She understands dating more than anyone else our age

Grandmas have been around the block a few times. They’ve seen it all. They are the best people to seek relationship advice from because they completely get it.

Your grandma will also want to punch out the person who treats you poorly, but she won’t tell anyone else about your relationship problems. Your secrets are her secrets.

5. She knows how to clean any mess

Whether it’s a house mess or a life mess, grandmas know best. Your grandma knows how to take a red wine stain out of a white shirt, and she’ll guide you through cleaning up your credit card debt.

She will be disappointed but not at all judgmental. She’ll let you learn from your mistakes and become a better person because of them.

6. She laughs at everything

Grandmas have reached a point in their lives where they don’t take life too seriously. Your grandma will laugh at all of your jokes and will teach you how to not sweat the small stuff.

When you’re stressed out, she teaches you the value of laughter.

7. She doesn’t care what she says

My grandma couldn’t care less about what she says to people because she has too much fun joking around.

Your grandma has fun with her conversations (mainly because she can’t hear most of them). She will remind you that life is too short to censor yourself and your beliefs.

8. She has a unique sense of style

My grandma always wants me to take the clothing that she doesn’t wear anymore. I never have because it doesn’t fit me, but it reminds me that all grandmas have the same style.

Even if each grandma seems different, they all have the same mindset of “Who cares?” My grandma doesn’t pay too much attention to what she wears anymore.

Grandmas remind us that appearance isn’t everything, and they teach us that material things don’t last forever.

9. She always wants to help

It is nearly impossible to stop my grandma from doing the dishes after a family dinner. We tell her to relax, but when we turn our backs, she’s hand-washing the dishes.

No matter how much of a fight we put up, grandma always wants to help us.

Grandmas are more reliable than anyone else in our lives, and regardless of time or place, they will always find a way to help us.

10. She truly exhibits unconditional love

Grandmas have an unconditional love for their grandchildren. It doesn’t matter how well you get along; your grandma will have a love for you that is stronger than any other.

To all of the grandmas out there: Thank you.