Is there such a thing as the ‘perfect’ grandparent? Perhaps not, but that doesn’t mean we can’t strive to be the best granny or grandpa in the world. A common mistake many grandparents make is that they believe being a good nan or grandad is all about saying ‘yes’ to the kids – giving them whatever they please. In fact, being a good grandparent is actually much more complex. It’s about finding the right balance between keeping the grandkids happy, respecting mum and dad, and maintaining a level of responsibility.
Here are 3 tips to help you become a fabulous grandparent during 2014:
Offer a Safe and Secure Environment
Needless to say, it’s been a long time since we had children of our own, so we can be a little out of practice when it comes to providing a safe environment for the kids to run around in.
We’re accustomed to having our own space, being able to keep the hot tap running in the bath, leave dinner simmering away on the hob, and opening top floor windows nice and wide, but when our grandkids come to stay, we need to remember all that advice we were given as new parents that is still relevant today.
Keeping our grandkids safe is the most important factor. If you live in a multi-storey property, the stairs should be one of your primary concerns. The NHS reports that 44 percent of all childhood injuries are the result of falls in the home, so it’s best to protect your grandkids from the stairs.
For babies and very young children, it’s a good idea to install a stair gate. For older kids, just make sure you discourage play in the stair area. Explain for example, that indoor and outdoor stairlifts are not a toy and be sure not to keep anything interesting (such as plants or furniture) near to the top of the stairs.
Take an Interest
Back when we were kids, there wasn’t quite the same range of kids’ characters as there is today. While we were largely limited to the likes of Woody Woodpecker, Huckleberry Hound and Felix the Cat, our grandkids walk around with t-shirts adorned with Peppa Pig, Henry Hugglemonster, and Doc McStuffins. It can be challenging to get your head around all these complex characters, but taking an interest in what your grandkids are interested in is a surefire way to instantly become a ‘cool granny’.
In today’s busy society, parents have less and less free time to spend with their children. In fact, it’s reported that the average mother spends just 30 minutes per day conversing with their child and men spend even less time – just 15 minutes on average. As retirees, we have the luxury of having the time to take an in depth interest, which can really go a long way towards encouraging psychological development, and increasing self esteem.
While ‘The Onion‘ is merely a satirical news source, it does have a point when it says you need to ‘take time to talk to your child about whatever crap they like’.
Listen to Mum and Dad
Of course, being a ‘perfect’ grandparent isn’t just about getting in your grandkids’ good books, it’s about keeping mum and dad happy, too.
Having done it all before, it can be so difficult to sit back and watch our kids making all the classic mistakes of young, new parents, but it’s important we let them make their own mistakes. As grandparents, we need to respect our children’s wishes with regard to how they bring their own children up, regardless of how ‘out there’ or restrictive their parenting methods may seem.
An estimated 36 percent of grandparents believe that their role is to spoil their grandchildren, whether that be in terms of cheeky sweet treats, pocket money, or extravagant gifts. While you may think you’re doing no harm, not only could you be straining the relationship between you and your children, you could also be harming your grandkids’ development.
Some researchers believe that when grandparents take too large a role in their grandchildrens’ lives, it can facilitate the development of emotional and behavioural problems in adulthood.
Don’t Sweat It
Despite our best efforts, we’re not always going to be seen as cool in the eyes of our grandkids. We’ll let ourselves down at some point, whether it be using an old saying, talking about currency that no longer exists, or forgetting that the shops are now open for Sunday trading! If your grandkids think you’re an old fuddy duddy, don’t worry! We don’t have to be trendy and modern to be a good grandparent, we just need to act and behave, in a loving and responsible manner.
Guest post provided by Acorn Stairlifts, a comprehensive resource covering everything relating to the mobility aid industry, including stairlift grants, equipment installation, and general mobility advice.