Expecting your first grandchild? Chances are you are both nervous and excited, depending on the circumstances surrounding the pregnancy. The first grandchild is often one of those monumental moments in life when you rearrange and reconfigure everything you thought you knew about life. For many years now, you have believed you would never be able to love any thing (or anyone) as much as you love your own child. That too is about to become a myth. When your see your first grandchild for the first time, recognizing your own child in their eyes, you will feel like you have been given a second opportunity at life and love.
With all these high expectations, it is normal to be disappointed. Not in your grandchild of course – but in all the ways you expected things to be. Often, grandparents are so excited about this big event in their lives that they forget this child has parents who are excited as well. Likely, your own child and their spouse will work hard to assert themselves and define their own role of parenting. New moms and dads have some pretty big shoes to fill and most feel slightly awkward, and un-confident in the beginning. If you are the kind of grandparent that tries to take over, offer excess advice, and behave like your grown child and spouse aren’t capable of caring for their child, you will likely see your grandchild less than you want.
Why? Sometimes, the sheer thrill of it all makes you forget that you might not always be welcome in your child’s house. They are entering a new phase of life and it is going to take some adjustments and trial and error on their part, in order to get it right. If you are visiting every chance you get and planning your weekends around your grandchild WITHOUT being respectful of your child – you are likely being pushy and overbearing. This can result in some resentment. With your first grandchild, you are also likely to simply walk over the birth parents, without meaning to – which they will take you undermining their parenting ability. Remember, that even though you are excited and cannot wait to spend every single waking moment with your grandchild – you need to make sure you allow the new family some space of their own. A little respect and holding your tongue – can go a long way in helping forge lasting bonds that aren’t strained with resentment.
No doubt you want to spoil your first grandchild. Perhaps you are in a situation in your life where you have plenty of time and resources to give, give, give. When you were raising your own children, you knew that spoiling them would only make your life harder. Yet now – you can do anything you wish with your own grandchild. Just make sure that you don’t overdo. Try to space your giving out so that you don’t overwhelm the child or put more stress in your child’s life. As for spoiling – you have every right to do so. Rather than be the kind of grandparent that is always giving things of monetary value, try to spoil with your time, love, abundant knowledge and nurturing spirit. You have a different angle on life now that you have raised your own children and can see the perfect areas where grandparents can make a huge difference. You don’t have to be in a hurry, you can sit on the floor and read books or play blocks for hours on end. You can rock the baby to sleep and still sit for another hour holding your sleeping grand angel. Your first grandchild will grow up knowing that grandma and grandpa are there for extra love and always have the time and attention the child may need; even if the parents do not. Since you want to be the spoiler, you have to think about whether or not you want to be involved in the day to day caring for or babysitting of your first grandchild. Remember that beyond the early days, this means you will also have to be part of the disciplining and raising of the grandchild. Plus, you will have to adhere to rules and schedules that are set forth by the parents in order to maintain consistency for the child. If you don’t think you will be able to do this, it may be in your best interest to graciously bow out of a long-term childcare position. Not doing so, can cause some relationship hardships down the road.
With your first grandchild, come a lot of dreams. Many grandparents want to make up for mistakes they may have felt like they made raising their own child, by spoiling or doing things different with the grandchild. You are right that the relationship between a parent and child, and a grandparent and child are totally different. However, it is important to keep in mind that no matter what – you will always be a very important part of your grandchild’s life and future. Many studies have shown that children who are raised in close proximity to their grandparents not only excel in school, but also have a firm familial foundation in place that helps them to feel more loved and boosts their overall self confidence. You have many things to teach your grandchild. Harness all of your excitement and love and make sure you funnel it into this little life that will certainly be a big part of changing yours.