Your child becomes a parent, and you are thrust–ready or not!–into the role of being a grandparent. How will you manage to live up to the grand title?
A good way to start is by discussing expectations. First, think about what you would like. What kinds of things do you envision doing with and/or for your grandchild? How often would you like to visit your grandchild? Or have your grandchild visit you? How willing are you to babysit or help with daily tasks? This step will help you to clarify and effectively articulate your thoughts, hopes, and expectations. Second, ask your child and his or her spouse how they envision your relationship with their child. Would they like your help with anything? If so, what kind of help would they appreciate most? Then share your thoughts with your child and his or her spouse. If needed, share your limitations (whether physical, financial, or other).
Next, work hard to maintain a good relationship with your child and his or her spouse. After all, they will control access to your grandchildren. Make a point of showing respect for their judgment and wishes. Think back to your early years of parenting. Were you idealistic and unrealistic in some areas? Were you stubbornly independent? How did you want your parents to treat you at that stage in your life? Avoid criticism. Give encouragement, not instruction. Allow your child time to learn on his or her own and warm up to your ideas. If concerns arise, express them in a business-like or educational fashion.
Last, talk to more experienced grandparents and ask their advice. Gather ideas that might work with your grandchildren. For a start, browse through the New Grandparent Guide and the grandparents.com website. Devote some time and effort to learning, and you will find yourself on the road to becoming a GRAND parent.