Parenting Perspective: Grandparents Handbook

April 2, 2010 7:59:56 AM PDT
Today's parenting blog is actually about grandparents. Most people assume being a grandparent comes naturally?and often it does. There are many different kinds of grandparents?the hands-on type who get down on the floor and play Barbies or roll Hot Wheels cars with your toddler for hours?and the helpful kind who don't necessarily like to get dirty but will pick up the kids at daycare, or attend a parent/child meeting at school in your place. Still many grandparents feel a bit lost because of today's more sophisticated children who are much busier than a generation ago?and the trickier kid equipment, like disposable diapers, and Wii fit electronic games to install and play.

So a Philadelphia author, Elizabeth LaBan, has written a new Grandparents' handbook to take some of the guesswork out or grandparenting and keep it fun!!

Her new book starts with a sweet story describing the unique bond many grandparents have, that's different than the relationship of a parent-and-child. For most grandparents, the daily stresses of getting the kids off to school on time, making dinner, arranging activities and playdates, keeping the clothes washed/ironed and the right sizes. The parents still do most of those necessary logistics. That means the grandparents can usually relax and enjoy the fun and energy of their cute kids. Now if you need some fresh ideas for keeping their attention, or some suggestions for starting family traditions, this is the place.

LaBan details how to stage an indoor camping "trip," write a family newspaper, hold a mock election, plan a scavenger hunt whether you live in a small apartment or have a large house with a yard.

She describes crafts and easy recipes that include going to the local farmer's market with your grandchild first, then turning that produce into an easy apple crumb pie; making trail mix together before hitting the trail for a nature walk, and creating a family tree with photos. On a more serious side, the book also encourages grandparents to:

-set up a bank account for each grandchild
-visit your grandchild's classroom
-create a family fun box (almost like your own time capsule)
-be ready for the Top 10 questions every grandchild asks.

The handy volume is a quick read, with easy reference points to go back to.

It's for all ages of grandparents and grandchildren from toddlers to teens, whether they live nearby or out-of-town. The book pulls from dozens of interviews with grandparents all over the country. It offers honest suggestions about how to use small amounts of discipline when the parents are gone, how to break up a skirmish between grandkids, and how to survive going out to a restaurant.

Many of the ideas are great for parents too. But it's aimed at grandparents specifically since they may be "rusty" at being around children, and now they may have more time to be a bit more creative in their approach to kids.

My favorite suggestion is one I plan to share with my mom, who lives in North Carolina and doesn't get to see my 9-year-old as often as we'd like. It suggests she check out a book from her library that she thinks Jake would enjoy. Record herself reading it into a standard tape recorder. Then mail the cassette to Jake, so he has his own "audio book-on-tape" with his grandmother's voice and her comments about the book. Perfect for a rainy afternoon or at bedtime in place of our normal reading time together. Plus it's a wonderful rememberance of the grandparent's voice after the grandparent is gone.

Good luck to all the grandparents out there. Hope these ideas are helpful. To view the interview with LaBan, click on here.

All the best,