Read the text and match each of the paragraphs 1-6 with its corresponding heading. There are three headings you do not need to use. 0 is an example.
A - Accept that you have no control
B - Avoid jealousy
C - Be clear about cash
D - Break the rules a bit
E - Brush up on your skills
G - Don’t Project
H - Don’t spend a fortune
I - Manage long distance
J - Only offer what you can give
Your beloved adult child is about to embark on a lifelong commitment about which they understand nothing. So it’s not surprising you’re as alarmed for them as you would be if they were sailing the Northwest Passage in flip-flops. Whichever phrase of warning or concern springs to your lips, however, hold it in. Your child needs support, not panic. So if you can’t pretend you’re thrilled, find something supportive to say. It will be appreciated.
Perhaps you had a nightmarish birth, featuring forceps, hallucinations and seven junior doctors moving around like women of the bedchamber. Maybe your baby was a shocking sleeper, or refused to eat anything but peas for the first three years. None of this, however, means that your children will have the same experience of parenthood. So while empathy and practical support are useful, constantly referring back to your own parental traumas is not.
“I really don’t understand why she buys our grandson those terrible clothes …” If you’re not careful, your remarks about the other grandma could turn you into a obsolete Mrs de Winter in Rebecca, constantly obsessed with your counterpart, living with the building paranoia that she’s somehow better, more loved, and more of a gran than you’ll ever be.
Nobody wants to be juggling a new baby and your easily bruised feelings, so biting remarks about the tastes or childcare practices of the other gran are unacceptable. It’s not a competition – it’s a family, although there’s often a fine line.
The general assumption is that grandparents are selfless. But even if you’re retired, you’re used to owning your time and offering flexible childcare can fast become a very long piece of string indeed. So it’s vital to consider how much time you can provide – and make the arrangement as formal as possible. Nobody wants to be sitting round the table with a lawyer; equally, you don’t want your loving arrangement of two afternoons a week turning into three days, two evenings and a Saturday morning, unless you’re willing.
While you may have been able to change a nappy with one hand and puree a cauliflower with the other 30 years ago, it’s likely that you have forgotten more than you ever knew. Although some of it will return, there are some areas where times have changed. What babies can eat, for example. Where they sleep and how pushchairs work. So don’t go in unprepared – do some research before the baby arrives.
After sweets and bedtimes, perhaps the most difficult issue of grandmother-hood is money. Nobody wants to quote a babycare price to their nearest and dearest, but with almost half of families with children reliant on grandparents for at least part-time childcare, if you spend between three and six days a week doing the hard work, is it reasonable to do it all gratis or should you be demanding some recompense for your labour? There’s no rule, though many grandparents find the whole idea of charging distasteful. Plus if you take a wage, you need to be a registered childminder and then it becomes complicated. Some avert the issue by accepting expenses, others just view their costs as part of the grandparental lot. What you must do is clarify your position at the outset.
Spoiling, of course, is often just another word for spending. And as a new grandparent, watching your adult children struggle to afford the raft of baby equipment and clothes and toys required can start an avid credit-card finger. Not only will this diminish your resources, it may also make your children feel inadequate.
Few parents like to feel that they can’t manage so if you want to buy a gift, consult them first. Keep presents appropriate and affordable.
1G 2B 3J 4E 5C 6H