Mary in an interior and kitchen designer and a grandma of two grandsons who are the light of her life. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and loves writing about the joys of grandparenting and all the simplest things about grandkids that bring such delight.
There are few experiences in life to compare with watching your grandchild being born. And there are no words adequate to describe the feelings you have while watching that child in his or her first moments of life as he looks around at the world about him. It brings the essence of humanity into perspective.
These days, when a child is born in the hospital, the grandmother may very well be in the delivery room to see her grandchild born. I was lucky enough to be there and have the chance to relive the birth experience I had with my own children, only without the struggle, pain and exhaustion of labor. My husband was there for the birth of our first grandson, but when the pushing started, he was pushed out into the hall where he waited with his ear against the door. And he was with the baby when he was 5 minutes old.
We now have 2 beautiful grandsons and over the past three years I’ve come to understand just what being a grandparent entails. If you are still waiting to become a grandparent or if you are a rookie, hopefully you will find something here that strikes a familiar chord and that will prove helpful.
After those wonderful first moments when your grandchild has been born, instinct kicks in and you want to provide all the advice about children that you’ve learned over the years. Our intentions are good. But we must tread carefully. It is, after all, our children’s time to experience and learn for themselves. It’s their time to explore and master the art and experience the joy of parenting.
Giving advice to your kids about their new babies so that it will be seen as helpful and not meddlesome is an art form in itself. We want everything to be perfect for our grandchildren. It’s like a second chance to get it right. Even though we want to try to keep our kids from making the same mistakes we did., we have to allow them to make their own mistakes. And we must remember that our “perfect” may be different from our children’s. I’ve realized that it is important to allow them to be the parent and that we are not the parent of their child.
The friction that can arise if you do not respect your children’s parenting styles and skills can damage your relationship. We simply have to let go.
A lot of views and opinions have changed in the thirty or so years since we had our babies. Babies haven’t changed though. They’re still the wonderful brand new human beings who just happen to come into this world (to be loved and cared for) with absolutely no instructions for care and feeding.
We have a better understanding of babies in general. Research has given us new medicines and improved medical care and countless studies and research have improved our knowledge of how to best care for babies.
For the most part, our kids are very savvy these days since they have more than Dr. Spock to guide them. Not only do they have books on what to expect, how to cope and how best to care for their babies, they have dvd’s, cable television and the internet with its vast reservoir of information on absolutely anything they might want to know.
Sometimes, even with all the information available, our kids may seem totally unprepared for the parenting experience. (And sometimes they know so much that it’s like they have their own “baby whisperer”.) But no matter how unsure of themselves they feel, for the most part they’re going to want to do it themselves. (Kinda like when they started to assert their independence when they were little children.) They want to do it their way… even if they sometimes feel a little lost. The important thing to remember is that you never want to make your children feel incompetent or uncomfortable in their new role as mommy and daddy. The baby will teach them how he wants things to be done as they learn and grow together day by day. So What Should We Do?
Knowing when to step in or step back is the balancing act we must perform . You can help them with the myriad of questions they will have without being too pushy or overbearing. You can wait for them to talk about their concerns or ask for advice.
Also, you can cheer them on from the sidelines. Your help can be a gentle suggestion on how to hold the baby or prop open his tiny mouth when your daughter is trying to learn to breast feed and the baby will just not latch on properly. You could just lend an ear to her frustrations. And no matter how important you feel it is for them to breast feed, you have to bite your tongue if they decide to bottle feed. You have to support their decision. The baby will live. Millions thrive on formula.
I love to share new information and techniques with my daughter. She’s picked up some tricks along the way with her sons. Just to name one, I’ve been impressed by watching her gently wrap her screaming baby in a special swaddling blanket. The effect on the baby is amazing. He was immediately comforted and able to go to sleep.
She and her husband have done an amazing job with Logan our 3-year old grandson and Maddox his 5 month old brother. (The boys are both doing so well and developing beautifully.) Maddox has been sleeping through the night for at least two months and he’s thriving on breast milk after some initial difficulties latching on. And our three year old Logan is just about the most perfect child ever. (Grandparents are allowed to say that.)
Just as I have something to teach, my daughter has taught me an enormous amount about taking care of babies. So we have a mutual respect that helps us learn the most from each other. Please don’t forget that word RESPECT. It always works both ways. Give it and you’ll get it.
So the teacher sometimes becomes the student. Becoming a grandparent is a wonderful experience. And just like our kids, we need to learn how to take on our new role without getting in their way. Grandparenthood is our reward. Above all, enjoy your grandchildren and let your children be their parent. We can sit back and marvel as we watch our children become even better parents than we were. When this happens, we have done our parenting job well.
Mary Halperin (grandmother of two)
P.S. - Please “stay tuned” to this column as we take the amazing journey with our grandkids. BabyMeTV will bring you all the latest information about caring for babies. This column’s approach is from the grand side of things. Please share your thoughts and experiences. BabyMeTV is Internet and TV and much more. Parents from all walks of life will now be able to find answers to their questions by seeing how their peers are doing things. Reality TV that’s Real. And they’ll be learning from baby doctors, pediatric nurses, child development experts and grandparents like you.
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