Receiving the news that you're about to become a grandparent is one of the most exciting moments of your life. Just ask any grandparent — they'll tell you all about it. In the blink of an eye, you become the matriarch or patriarch of a family — the place where it all began! By this point in life, you have decades worth of wisdom, experience and love to share, and chances are you're going to put it all into your beautiful baby grandchild and spend the next 20 years spoiling them every time you get the chance.
However, while an abundance of resources existed to help prepare you for the transition into parenthood, you may find less attention given to soon-to-be nanas or papas, despite the fact that grandparenting also comes with a whole new set of joys and challenges. You become a mentor to the new generation — a source of guidance, wisdom and limitless love. Naturally, while this shift in roles comes with a great deal of joy and excitement, a new set of trials accompanies it as well. Here's a closer look at what you can expect from grandparenting.
What is it exactly that makes grandchildren so special and so exciting? From their unconditional love to their irresistibly adorable silliness, the bond between a grandparent and grandchild — particularly that first one — is 100% unbreakable, and even sacred. The relationship between you and your grandbabies is a relationship based solely on your love and appreciation for one another and your enjoyment of each other's company. As any grandparent will tell you, it's one of the purest and simplest loves in life.
First come the pet names and the unlimited hugs. You'll likely spend the first year of your grandchild's life pressing them to your chest and trying to coax your official new grandparent name from their lips! Before you know it, they've learned how to use their legs and their lips and they're running across your front yard in tiny little shoes with outstretched arms, calling that name out with a big smile across their baby-fat cheeks. Whether you're a classic Grams/Gramps, a silly Nana/Papa or an old-fashioned southern MawMaw/PawPaw, nothing beats hearing your baby say it for the first time.
Before you know it, it's a barrage of animated films and cartoons that you'll swear aren't as good as the ones you had growing up — not to mention the theme songs are far more annoying. (Whether you like it or not, there may come a time you begin hearing "baby shark, doo-do-do-do-do-do" in your dreams. Be prepared — the odds are not in your favor.) They get bigger and bigger and the years never seem to slow down; before you know it, they're starting kindergarten. Get your sleepovers in while you can! Obscene amounts of pizza, silly kid movies, new fads you don't understand — all this and more awaits you.
Yet another awesome part of grandparenting is the way it deepens your relationship with your own child(ren). Now that you're both parents, you may find yourself imparting more wisdom and experience to them than to your grandchild. Just as you may have looked to your parents in your own moments of uncertainty or resignation as a parent, your child will now finally get their comeuppance; the apple never falls far from the tree, and all the trouble they gave you is about to get returned to them tenfold! That's when your new role as matriarch/patriarch really begins to set in. You're done raising them; now, you have to help them raise. It's a beautiful experience that only deepens the bond of the blood you all share.
As your grandchild ages and enters their teen years, chances are they're going to develop an attitude. That's teenagers for you — moody, angsty and snappy! The bright side is, it will all look and sound very familiar, given that it's probably going to be the exact same attitude their parents gave you years ago and you gave your parents at that age, etc. There will, no doubt, be some level of humor to it because of this.
On the other hand, there may be times when you feel some discipline is appropriate, and that's okay. In every grandparent's life, there are moments when they're called to step up to the plate; some lessons may be easier for your grandchild to understand and accept if they come from you rather than their parents. In fact, if you look back on your own childhood and adolescence, you may even recall a time or two that your grandmother or grandfather got through to you when no one else could. Grandparents have a way of making hard lessons a little softer and cold facts a little warmer.
Additionally, a generation gap is always inevitable. It's better to accept sooner rather than later; the world has changed quite a bit since you were a child, and chances are your grandchild will be entertained by or involved in things you have absolutely no understanding of. This is okay; in fact, it's completely natural. That doesn't mean you can't introduce them to the unique peculiarities of your own background; sharing music, stories and recipes from your younger days is a great way to connect across intergenerational boundaries.
No matter what, the joys of grandparenting always outweigh the trials. Several of our residents at Autumn View Gardens in St. Louis are grandparents, and even great-grandparents; our staff understand, appreciate and encourage their relationship with their grandbabies and are always happy to see them enjoying time together.
*Please don't remove this section it is working with 3 TalkFurther buttons on live url