1. Boundaries are necessary for control and safety.
All children need and must learn to respect boundaries. Being clear about expectations before an activity begins frees you and the child to enjoy the event and ensures the safety of everyone involved. If you observe the boundaries are being violated, don’t be afraid to remind your grandchildren again. Restate the rules as many times as necessary. Writing the rules and posting them or bringing them along is a good idea. If a rule is violated during the activity, ask the child to repeat or read the rules again.
2. Gift giving is not a requirement of grandparenting.
Establish a practice with your first grandchild and stick with it; what you do for one doesn’t necessarily have to be done for all. Financial and family situations change as our children grow. If a family experiences loss of a job or divorce, don’t be afraid to make temporary changes. Gifts are gifts especially when they are unexpected. Surprise gifts are the best. Gifts don’t have to cost a lot. Research supports the fact that time together is the best gift we can give. Travel provides time for the grandparent and grandchildren to discover and appreciate each other’s gifts.
3. All rules must be consistent with the parent’s wishes.
Anything you do with and for your grandchild needs to be discussed first with the parents. After all, parents make the rules and effective grandparents support them.
Don’t keep secrets from the parents and don’t ask the grandchildren to keep secrets from their parents. Many grandparents believe that some information should not be shared with the parents, but this only undermines the relationships.
4. There is no substitute for planning.
Proper planning ensures that the activity will be discussed with the parents. No matter what the age or sex of your grandchild, planning makes any activity more successful. This is not to say you can’t be spontaneous, but it’s often better and safer to have a plan.
Discuss with the child what he or she would like to do. Give careful thought to the age-appropriateness of the activities before you begin. Giving children choices increases their self-confidence and is great training for the future.
5. Grandchildren and grandparents want to have fun!
There is no substitute for good old-fashioned belly laughs. It’s good for you, your grandchild, and your relationship. During the activity itself, share with your grandchildren how excited you are about being with them.
Children enjoy getting away from their parents for short periods of time and grandparents enjoy being part of a very important relationship. Parents enjoy their break too.