New Lessons for Grandparents

That new baby is here and we get to love her up! Great, but that’s just part of it. The parents hold all the cards and there may be new rules to the game since our own babies were born.

1. We could love that new baby tirelessly but we must remember that he or she is not ours. While that makes perfect sense, for some reason it sometimes comes as a shock to grandparents– especially with new parents who are young and inexperienced. For grandparents who are accustomed to being in charge, deferring to the rules and wishes of their children can be humbling. After all, they reason, we’ve raised our own children and feel like veterans in the child-rearing game.

2. Even when there is a lack of parenting books around the house, new parents have no problem finding all the information they need.

3. Sometimes less said is better, even if you are an expert in childcare. We should let new parents discover things that they assume we do not know. Not all advice and wisdom is appreciated, unless directly solicited. At the same time, not all traditional advice is good. For example, past generations of parents have rubbed baby’s sore gums with brandy or whiskey to soother teething pain. No amount of alcohol is thought to be safe for infants, so resist any urge you may have to follow in that tradition. Another example is car seat safety; Baby Boomers mostly rode without benefit of seatbelt restraint!

4. Fellow grandparents, despite all of your experience you will still be told how to hold a baby, burp her, swaddle, and have tummy time. The names have changed but not the methods. Of course we all know you never put a newborn on her stomach but watch out, it may take a while to secure a new parent’s trust. Don’t take it personally.

5. With the wealth of childrearing information online, most new parents are up to speed — and beyond — but we grandparents may not be. Scan through catalogs and magazines for baby items to familiarize yourself with new products and their functions. Boppies, sound machines, plastic grass trays that you stand baby bottles up in. There’s a lot of cool new gear, but we do pick up quickly.

6. Now may be the time for grandparents to get a life. Some new parents become overly dependent on their parents for babysitting, providing meals, or financial support. Conversely, grandparents can become immersed in the young family’s day-to-day life, putting their own desires on the back burner. Here is when grandparents need to take a step back. “Boundaries” is not a dirty word. It’s good to have your own life and let them figure out theirs.

7. Let go of all expectations. Many grandparents are heartbroken when their children and grandchildren move out of their first apartment and out of state or (gasp!) out of the country. Remember, it is your children’s story and they get to write it. It may not be the way you wanted things to go, but once you let go of your own agenda, you will realize that in today’s world of technology and transportation, no distance could break the bonds of love between grandparents and grandchildren.

8. Lastly, Rudolph Giuliani put it best, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, and lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.”

By Staten Islander Marianna Randazzo, author, educator, and grandmother.



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  1. Greenbelt Peepers

    March 23 @ 9:45 am - 10:15 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  9:45 am - 10:15 pm
    Greenbelt Nature Center
    Through hands-on activities, crafts, and stories, two-year-old kids and their caregivers will become familiar with the sights and sounds of the forest. Space is limited. Registration requested. To register, please email naturecenter@sigreenbelt.org or call (718) 351-3450.
  2. Free Foreclosure Legal Services

    March 23 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  10:00 am - 3:00 pm
    Senator Andrew Lanza's District Office
    The Mobile Legal Help Center is a partnership between the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG) and the New York State Courts Access to Justice Program that provides free foreclosure legal services to New Yorkers in need. Private meeting rooms
  3. Toddler/Preschool Story Time

    March 23 @ 10:30 am - 11:15 am
    March 23, 2017  |  10:30 am - 11:15 am
    St. George Library
    Songs, rhymes, picture book stories, & a craft activity are all part of this story time. Registration required.
  4. Toddler Storytime

    March 23 @ 11:00 am
    March 23, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:00 am
    Todt Hill-Westerleigh Library
  5. Tot’s Time Plus

    March 23 @ 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  11:00 am - 1:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Your pre-schooler will create artwork, sing along and listen to stories.
  6. Greenbelt Tree Tots

    March 23 @ 11:00 am - 11:45 am
    March 23, 2017  |  11:00 am - 11:45 am
    Greenbelt Nature Center
    Through hands-on activities, crafts, and stories, children will become familiar with the sights and sounds of the forest. Space is limited. Registration required. Email nature center@sigreenbelt.org or by phone at 718-351-3450. Fee: $3 or Free for Greenbelt Conservancy Members.
  7. Bouncing Babies

    March 23 @ 11:15 am
    March 23, 2017  |  11:15 am - 11:15 am
    West New Brighton Library
    Come for playtime, stories and songs for babies and their caregivers.
  8. Baby Social

    March 23 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
    St. George Library
    Playground is too cold or it’s rainy? Do you and your baby need to get out of the house? Come to the library! A safe, indoor space for babies 0-23 months and their caregivers to play and socialize. Baby toys
  9. Reading & Technology Family Workshop

    March 23 @ 12:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  12:00 pm - 12:00 pm
    Huguenot Library
  10. Animal Time

    March 23 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    March 23, 2017  |  2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
    SI Children's Museum
    Join us for this daily program and meet one of the animals from our living collection. Check the white board at the museum for details.