What a joy to watch your children learn how to become parents!
Six months ago we became grand parents. More importantly, our son and daughter-in-law became parents. From the first day their pride was visible.
They handled the baby carefully and displayed the hyper-vigilance common to all new parents. Diapering and feeding were time-consuming with inputs and outputs carefully charted.
Gradually things became more relaxed. All three fell into a rhythm where baby needs were met and each parent resumed some activities they previously enjoyed.
Meanwhile, our grand-daughter grew and flourished. We give thanks every day that, to this time, normal developmental milestones have been met. She is a happy, responsive baby with a big smile — especially for her parents. Her face lights up for them uniquely.
Parenting has required many adjustments. I know they have faced the usual inexplicable baby fussiness, worries about teething, and parental sleep-deprivation. Their needs are secondary most of the time.
Yet, they have taken things in stride refusing to let a new baby prevent them from travelling across the country to visit friends, taking a planned vacation to Iceland, spending weekends at the cottage with us, and making frequent 3 hour car trips to visit the ‘other’ grandparents.
With delight and pride I’ve observed their family unit form and grow stronger. They gain confidence as parents with each passing week.
My retirement happiness has increased as I’ve watched them become parents.
It’s been a joy to let them find their way.
I’m proud of how they have approached parenting and I’ve thought about what each of us can do, as grandparents, to help make this transition successful — and what can make everyone happier.
1. Find ways to share the wonder of parenting. This is easy when you live only 30 minutes away from each other but many grand parents use Skype to keep in close contact. The ‘other’ grandparents see their grand daughter on the screen and get to enjoy each milestone — almost as much as if they were closer.
2. Compliment your children’s successes as parents. Although its natural to coo over a grand baby, make sure you let the parents know they are doing a great job as parents. They are still your children and want affirmation from you. As new parents they are making a life transition and they value feedback from you.
I’ve noticed how all young parents — not only those in our family — take pleasure when they are complimented about the effectiveness of their parenting skills.
3. Support them when things are difficult. Give help when asked. Give advice only when asked. Even when asked, give gentle guidance making suggestions and giving alternatives for them to consider. If possible, provide baby-sitting for the occasional date night or for important events in their lives.
A few weeks ago we were asked, at short notice, to care for our grand-daughter while her parents finalized the purchase of a new car. Buying a car is stressful. Trying to care for a young baby during such a transaction would be tough so they turned to us — and, of course, we were happy to be there.
It’s good to remind yourself that all of us, as young parents, were often unsure and needed guidance and support.
4. Finally, back off and let them find their way.
They are the parents and your role is in the background.
You didn’t parent your own child in the same way that your parents did, so why expect your kids to do as you did? They know from experience how your parenting mistakes affected them. They don’t want to shape their child in the same way.
They have their own ideas of parenting and are forming their family unit in their special way. They are also coping with pressures, stresses and opportunities that are unique in their generation. Trust them to know what they are doing.
Have confidence that they also noticed what you did well as a parent. They will emulate these actions and behaviours.