As a first-time grandparent, the arrival of a new generation can bring great joy to your golden years. But this huge life moment also brings unique challenges that few of us are equipped for. Here are some tips to help you navigate your important new role.
Give new mums and dads a break
Cast your mind back to when your own children were small. While the joys of parenthood are boundless, it’s easy to forget how difficult it can be to adjust to life with a baby. Getting to grips with the inevitable sleep deprivation, trying to decipher what each type of cry means and changing explosive nappies at dawn can be exhausting for new parents.
Bearing in mind their needs for some space of course, try to visit frequently if you can, and always aim to bring a calming presence to the household when you do. An offer to take care of your little grandchild while the parents get things done or catch up on sleep will no doubt be much appreciated.
Be present and in the moment
Luckily, it’s far easier to live in the moment as a grandparent, as you’re not the one responsible for the daily toil and practical aspects of parenting. You get to experience all the amazing milestone moments of childhood, but through a far more relaxed lens. From their first tooth to their first steps to their first day at school, you’re gifted with a fountain of youth in the form of your new granddaughter or grandson that will allow you to relive the magic of childhood.
As they grow up, your role as grandparent becomes an even more coveted position. You can be the fun and trusted figure in their lives, as you don’t need to fulfil the disciplinarian role in the same way as parents – and you get the relief of being able to go home every night.
Teach them life lessons
You may come from another generation, but you were once a child too. Everyone goes through similar conflicts and struggles for identity, and your wealth of experience will become priceless to your grandchildren, especially as they grow older.
Being a grandparent is an important chapter in your life. It makes you uniquely qualified to share treasured wisdom and life lessons that your grandson or granddaughter won’t receive in school or anywhere else. From handing down ancient family recipes to instilling a desire to care for others without prejudice, you can lead by example and make the most of your new role as mentor to this special young person.
Educate them in financial literacy
As well as life lessons, giving your grandchildren an education in financial literacy is an amazing gift. Be open and honest about their questions related to money, and try to encourage a healthy attitude towards spending and saving. If you are retired or nearing retirement age, you might also like to consider leaving a small gift for your grandchild, either from your savings, or perhaps through an over 50s life insurance policy.
According to research from the Social Mobility Commission*, more than a third of first-time buyers in England (34%) turn to family for help with their purchases, so a little financial gift will certainly go a long way.
Being a grandparent can be a wonderful experience. These tips should help you transition to this new stage of your life, and help you enjoy it even more.
* Social Mobility Commission, The Impacts of Family Support on Access to Homeownership for Young People in the UK (2017) March 2017
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