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5 steps to prepare for grandparenthood

Congratulations! You are about to join more than 78 million American grandparents! Just as parenting doesn’t always come naturally, good grandparenting also requires preparation. Here are ways to smooth the transition:

  1. Recognize your ambivalence. You may be experiencing mixed feelings of sadness amid the excitement as you face your own aging. Stay in touch with these emotions and find an understanding ear in a mate or a friend.
  2. Be mindful of boundaries. Today’s world of two-income families and divorce means grandparents can play a more important role than ever before. While you may be providing vital emotional and pragmatic support, remember to respect the younger family’s values.
  3. Air expectations. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, nine out of 10 grandparents help care for their grandchildren at some point during the year. This prospect might delight you and the baby’s parents—or not. Be clear about your role and be honest about what you feel you can do.
  4. Brush up on babies. Invest in a book for new parents to refresh your memory about safety issues and baby handling. Check local events for grandparenting programs that will prepare you for helping to care for a new baby.
  5. Fight the long-distance blues. If you live far from your grandchild, plan ways to keep family ties strong. Family vacations can center around visits, and phone calls, letters and e-mails help shrink the miles. Your initial correspondence may be with the baby’s parents, but soon you’ll count your grandchildren among your pen pals, too!