The biggest mistake we new grandmas make is thinking our role is just about our new grandchild. In her new book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting, Lesley Stahl rhapsodized over her first grandchild with these phrases: “I was blindsided by a wallop of love more intense than anything I could remember, “I was so pumped, my heart was on a trampoline,” and “I nearly swooned, staring at her like a lover.”
In fact, we fall so head over heels for that new baby and feel so overwhelmed by euphoria, we may not realize the most important relationship is with the child’s parents. How do we win over her parents? How do we earn their trust so that we can have access to that precious new being who has completely captivated us?
The first thing to remember is to hug your grandchild’s parents before you rush past them to grab your grandchild. I was guilty of running past my daughter in the doorway and apparently it’s so universal, Pat Brady and Don Wimmer made it the subject of their comic strip Rose Is Rose.
So when you shower your new grandchild with love, attention, and gifts, be sure to throw some love and appreciation on her parents too. By showing them respect and appreciation for all their hard work, they’ll trust and respect you, too.
Bonding with Your Grandchild’s Parents
In my book, When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: 4 Keys to L.O.V.E. Your Grandchild’s Parents, I use the acronym L.O.V.E. to help grandparents remember four important tips for building a loving bond with their grandchild’s parents:
- Learn the parents’ language so that you understand their parenting philosophy.
- Own your shared purpose of nurturing a healthy, adjusted child.
- Value the parents’ hard work and good intentions so that you share mutual respect.
- Empathize! Empathize! Empathize! Empathy is infinitely more valuable than advice.
Becoming a grandma truly is one of life’s most precious gifts yet it can stir up unexpected conflicts between the generations. If you pay attention to cues from your grandchild’s parents and are sensitive to their rules and expectations, you’ll have a much better chance of earning a respected place on the team.