New Grandma’s Biggest Mistake

When you visit your new grandbaby, do you rush past his parents so you can grab that baby and just soak up the love you feel for him? If you’ve ever made this mistake, you’re not alone. I used to rush past my daughter in my excitement to see my new granddaughter. I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on that precious baby. It’s so universal, Pat Brady and Don Wimmer addressed it in their comic strip Rose Is Rose.





We make this common mistake because as new grandmas we think our role is all about our new grandchild. Lesley Stahl rhapsodized over her first grandchild in her book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science of the New Grandparenting, “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 our grandchild’s parents. How do we win over the parents? How do we earn their trust so that we can have access to that precious new being who has completely captivated us?

Start by making sure you hug your grandchild’s parents before you rush past them to grab your grandchild. As small as this gesture may seem, it’s symbolic: you’re showing your adult children you’re there for them first. Our children need our love, attention, and appreciation just as much as our grandchild does — maybe even more in the early days when they’re sleep-deprived and learning how to be parents. By showing them respect and appreciation for all their hard work, you’re building mutual trust and respect.

Appreciate 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 created 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 practices.
  • 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.

Some Kudos We've Received

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