As 2017 comes to a close, and I reflect on what I would like parents to think about, I am struck by the amazing cycle of life and family.
My mother left this earth at the age of almost 94 only days after we discovered that my younger daughter and her husband were expecting twins. This news was a BIG surprise to us because we have no history of twins in our family, but the first thought that came to my mind as I was staying with my mother in her final days was, “I always knew it would take two to replace my mother!” It was an incredibly happy and sad moment at the same time, but knowing that two new little humans would be blessing our family and our world, somehow made our goodbyes a little easier.
Becoming a grandparent is wonderful—just like everyone says—but it isn’t better than being a parent. Here are a few tips I would love to share with you that I have learned in these first nine months of Grandparenthood.
- Almost everything I learned about parenting infants when I was younger has changed and will probably continue to change. Even though I am in the parenting field and know a lot about young children, the world of infancy is new, and the younger generation really do know what they are doing!
- The best part of being a grandparent is watching your child become a parent! You never really know how good a job you did teaching your children about loving and caring until you get to watch them love and care for a baby (or perhaps more than one!). It is a miracle to behold! You will see why all the time you spent, energy you gave, and love you shared was so important.
- The hardest part of being a grandparent is doing your best to be just like your child in a relationship with this new little person. I am very used to being the one who “leads the way” in our family. Now my daughter is in charge of her family and I am the support person. It is my job to do everything I can to support her and provide consistency of routine and expectations for these little ones. Somehow, this responsibility weighs more heavily on me that when I was in charge myself. I am very fortunate to be able to spend one day each week with the babies, but they change so fast, and I find it challenging to keep up sometimes.
- Watching these little ones blossom and become more and more interactive is like looking back in time to see little reflections of my child in these new human beings mixed with something new and entirely different. As their personalities evolve and reveal themselves I am amazed by the uniqueness and the similarities to my daughter that I see. I look forward to learning more and more in the future!
- Observing a boy and girl of the very same age develop side by side confirms what I always tell parents about how there is a range of typical development that has so much to do with temperament. Watching our little boy become more and more physically adept because of his high activity level since birth while his calmer, quieter sister takes more time to get around is fascinating and affirming.
- Lastly, if you are a parent or a grandparent reading this, I encourage you to share your joys and your questions with each other. Having and being an involved grandparent is a gift and sometimes a challenge. Similarly to working as spouses or parenting partners, being an involved grandparent requires collaboration and communication. The children you are loving and raising will benefit so much from your presence and your consistency. The more open you are with each other and the more you appreciate what each of you brings to the table, the more joy you will experience.