A Grandparents' Guide
The Wonder Years
The most exciting thing about being a grandparent is watching your own child become nurturing. The miracle of a new baby is overwhelming, but to watch your son or daughter becoming a parent is just as miraculous. We watch with awe, pride and, sometimes, trepidation as our sons and daughters do their best to raise strong and healthy offspring. We know how demanding a job that is. We want to help. We should help. And we do.
We want to keep our grandchildren safe and sound. We want to make our homes and theirs safe havens where nothing bad can happen to them. We want to share with our own children the lessons we learned-and learn a few new tips ourselves.
The contributions grandparents make to their families are extraordinary. Some, like baby-sitting or giving them safe cribs or strollers, are tangible. Others, like providing a role model for grandchildren, are intangible but just as powerful and real. We do know that virtually every study of child development shows that youngsters lucky enough to have loving grandparents are destined to be winners. All research on single parents shows that the future of the children is correlated with support from grandparents.
We also know that grandparents can make their children's job of parenting a lot easier. When you lend a sympathetic ear to an upset parent you provide a safe outlet for often difficult emotions. When you give your children a night off by baby-sitting, you give them and your grandchild a much-needed break from the inevitable strains of the nuclear family. When your children know that, in a pinch, there is someone to step in to love their children and keep them safe, you give them the most valuable kind of support.
More and more, we see grandparents providing reliable and dedicated child care. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that about 1.3 million children are entrusted to their grandparents every day. That same 1994 study says another 2.4 million children live in households headed by a grandparent. It means that numbers of grandparents make it possible for the young ones to grow up in stable homes and communities.
But it's the daily acknowledgment that we get from our children and grandchildren that inspires us to develop and maintain those loving connections. What fun to watch their eyes widen and sparkle when you tell your grandchildren about how their mommy was as a small child! We know it's not always easy, that it takes thought, finesse and devotion. It requires us to be emotionally flexible and nurturing. We have to be vigilant and make our homes safe for children. We need to take our role modeling seriously-for our children and grandchildren.
We hope we can help. Because when grandparenting works, there's nothing better. We know. We're grandparents too.
|Dr. T. Berry Brazelton
Clinical Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Chairman, Pampers Parenting Institute
Chairman, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Reprinted with the permission of the Federal Citizen Information Center.
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