“I’m Finally Going To Be a Grandparent”

You get the phone call. Your child is having a child, and you will be a grandparent. Now what? Where’s the playbook? What role will I have in this tiny human’s life?

Every family is different, with parents setting guidelines for grandparents to follow. Grandparents are trusted by their adult children to reinforce limits and boundaries and must respect their children’s parenting decisions. However, grandparents play a much more significant role than disciplinarians. They play many roles that are all equally important in the upbringing of their new grandchild.

Role of Teacher
Grandparents have a broad worldview and can teach their grandchildren how to navigate the world around them. They act as teachers, advisors and coaches and are always available to offer wisdom, guidance and support.

Grandparents know the importance of working hard to achieve goals and how important it is to learn to fail to succeed. They reinforce the importance of strong family values and the difference between right and wrong. They will talk endlessly about having a solid moral compass and always do their best to lead by example. They instill the virtues of honesty and integrity and will never waiver when teaching about the importance of a strong work ethic. Grandparents will know when something is wrong and will lovingly guide their grandchild in solving trials and tribulations that occur in everyday life. Although they will probably want to solve the problem themselves, they will resist the urge to “fix it” and offer advice and suggestions to help the child find an appropriate solution.

Role of Friend
Grandparents will always let their grandchildren and everyone around them know they are their biggest cheerleaders. From standing up and calling out the child’s name at their high school graduation to loudly letting the basketball referee know what they thought of the foul called, grandparents never waiver as loyal supporters. Grandparents want to do fun things and may occasionally stray from the rules set out for their grandchild. Okay, maybe they take a complete detour around the block from those rules, but who doesn’t want to eat ice cream for breakfast or stay up past their bedtime? Grandparents have waited forever for these opportunities, and these are memories that will stay with their young grandchild forever.

When young children become teenagers, this is a very tumultuous time when they can use all the advice they can get. Grandparents act as confidants, allowing their grandchild to speak freely and have a sounding board where they know they can talk about anything in a safe haven and have someone who listens attentively and is free of judgment. They will always take the time to listen and always make their grandchild feel loved and special. They will constantly lift them up and reassure them that they can accomplish anything they put their mind to. They will let them know they will always be in their corner supporting them, and they will never, ever be alone.

Role of Historian
As family historians, grandparents have much to offer in the way of family stories and traditions. Since they have been in the family the longest, who better to tell all the family tales and to help their grandchild understand more about their family roots and heritage? Whether they tell the story of how the entire family got together for dinner on a Sunday and stomped grapes in a basket to make wine or how they were stuck at sea for days when they were in the military, this precious gift a grandparent provides is invaluable. They hope their grandchild will always listen to them talk about how they froze milk because it was on sale and never paid full price for a canned good when they could buy a dented can cheaper. They will share and share and share and always remind children to protect the family name and be proud of who they are.

Plain and simple, most grandparents love being grandparents. This special relationship with their grandchildren is like no other and should be treasured.