It is so exciting to have a new grandchild, and of course all we want to do is help! We newly minted grandparents have “been there before,” because we raised a wonderful child (the new parent) and we have plenty of wisdom to share.

It’s challenging for us new grandparents to watch our children, and now grandchildren, struggle when we’re pretty sure we know the solution. But the new parents need to find their own “parenting voices.”

In the early days and weeks of being a grandparent, our job is to be grand (definition of grand: splendid or magnificent) parents to our children, while they “learn by doing”  to parent their own children.

Conventional wisdom has changed about baby care so it can be helpful to ask the new parents for suggested reading so we are up-to-date (and not surprised) about the latest research and practices. A good time to have this discussion is before the baby is born, but it is never too late!

Many hospitals now have “expectant grandparents” classes, which can be very enlightening as well as showing the parents-to-be how seriously we’re taking our new role. By letting the new parents be in charge and asking them what we can do to help, we show them that we respect their new roles.

Sometimes they might like us to keep the household running by planning meals, doing laundry, and running errands. Other times, they might find it helpful for us to hold baby or play with their toddler while they shower or nap. Remember, parents of newborns are terribly sleep deprived, so be patient, calm, and nonjudgmental when having these discussions.

A new baby in the family is both glorious and stressful. Everyone’s roles change—wife, husband, parent, grandparent, etc. We can be grand parents by showing our children unconditional love and support in their new roles and we are sure to be welcomed into the esteemed position of grandparents extraordinaire!

Cherie Tannenbaum, NP, IBCLC, is a family nurse practitioner, certified lactation consultant, family educator, and coordinator of Babies & Beyond at Parents Place in Palo Alto. She brings more than 30 years of experience in working with families. For more information about her “Baby and Me” groups and classes here at Parents Place click here.