Things to Consider When Becoming a Grandparent
They say there is nothing as wonderful as becoming a grandparent. The emotions are similar to being a parent but you don’t have to deal with all the work, sleepless night and dirty diapers. Unless of course you want to deal with them.
What should you expect when your child is expecting? Should you expect to be kept apprised of every kick, every doctor’s appointment and go along to every ultrasound appointment? The answer is, that depends. As with many things in a parent and adult child relationship, you get to help set the parameters.
Asking Your Expectant Child
When you first learn your child is expecting, you will probably have a lot of emotions. Surprise, shock and concern may be some of those emotions or it could be happiness and joy. It all depends on the situation. That is why establishing exactly what is expected when your child is expecting will look different for everyone.
Once the initial emotions wear off, you may start wondering what this is going to look like. This is a great time to ask. Set the boundaries right from the start so there are no hurt feelings during the next few months.
Do you want to be included every step of the way? There is no reason why you can’t ask. Of course, they also have the right to say no. Setting boundaries is about asking, talking and agreeing on things. Expecting a child is a time when many couples bond even further and they may want to go through this experience as a couple only.
Offer to Help Your Expecting Child
Depending on your child’s life situation, you may be able to offer your help. Maybe they need a ride to a doctor’s appointment, or someone to pick up some Gatorade or crackers because morning sickness is staying all day.
Perhaps it isn’t your first grandchild, then offer to help with the other children. You can relieve the parents when Mom is finding that growing a human being is causing fatigue. What are their plans when it comes time to give birth? Do they need you to come to their home and be with the other kids?
By offering to help, you stay involved without intruding.
Family History of Your Expecting Child
If you don’t already know the medical history of your family, this is a great time to find out. Research and put together a detailed list of the illnesses in your family and how their grandparent passed away.
This might sound like a morbid activity when your child is preparing to bring new life into the world, but it is a gift you can give that may prove very helpful in the future.
Becoming a Grandparent Isn’t Always Roses
When your child is expecting, it can bring all kinds of issues to the surface. If it is their first child, they will be thinking about what kind of a parent they want to be. They will probably reflect on their childhood and decide what parts they want to keep and what things they don’t.
This can be dangerous grounds for your emotions. As parents, we are all afraid we may not have done a good enough job. When your child is expecting, you may feel as though they are judging your parenting style.
For Julia*, it was devastating when her son Jason declared he wouldn’t be raising his children the way he was raised. He wouldn’t be spanking, his wife would be nursing on demand rather than a schedule. They wouldn’t allow gendered toys for their child and no formula until the baby reached at least six months of age.
Julia felt as though her son was telling her that she failed as a mother. What she heard was that he had a terrible childhood because she spanked him and fed him formula. She also allowed him to play with toy guns and G.I Joe.
The truth is, Jason was just expressing his autonomy from his parents and establishing his own boundaries. His choosing to raise his family differently from how he was raised was not a rejection of his mother.
*names have been changed