How to be a great grandparent

My most recent title is Mimi.

Being a grandmom brings great joy to my heart. Like you, I want to be the best Mimi I can be. My husband feels the same. He wants to be the best Papa he can be.

In my Moms Together Group (a Facebook group for Moms and Grandmoms, join us!), I did an informal survey of what makes a good grandparent. I’m only 5 years into this grandparent gig, and I wanted to hear the moms’ perspective.

I compiled a list of 10 items that make a good grandparent from the responses I received.

A Good Grandparent…

1. Shows interest in their grandchild’s life. The infant-baby phase could look like this: “How did
‘the baby’ sleep last night?” With littles you can enter their world by talking about things that
interest them. My two-year-old grand and I talk about trash trucks and excavators, while my five-
year-old grand and I discuss hockey. As grands get older, be present for events in which they are
participating. Just being there means so much to the child and their parents.

2. Is available and accessible. This can be done even at a distance. Two of our grands live out of state. My husband and I make it a priority to stop whatever we are doing and carve out time to connect when they Facetime us.

3. Is respectful of their children’s and grandchildren’s time and schedule. The family routine is a
big deal, no matter the age or stage. With littles, sleeping and eating times need to be respected.
Older grands have busy lives with school and various activities. As grandparents it’s best if we
can remain flexible and fit into their already packed lives. And avoid stopping by unannounced.
Be sure to call first.

4. Instigates connection. Run your ideas past their mom and dad to be sure they are on board with
your potential plan. Reach out and make that call to say hello. Our out-of-state grands love to get
packages, so I occasionally make care packages filled with homemade cookies, a note, some
photos, and other small items to bridge the distance gap.

5. Offers to help. Be ready and willing to help as needed. That could look like cutting up food for
little guys, providing (requested) assistance with various household tasks, or with watching the
kids. Say yes as much as you are able.

6. Is engaged and responsive. Put down the phone. Look your grands in the eye. Be fully present
and have fun with them. Sing silly songs together and play games. My grandma played cards and
scrabble with me, my siblings, and cousins. She was highly competitive. Gram wanted to win!
(Of course, with the little ones, a highly competitive grandparent may not be the best approach.)

7. Is sensitive to her adult child’s struggles and her grandchild’s challenges. Avoid discounting
the feelings your adult child may have regarding certain parenting frustrations. Listen and show
empathy. Then ask if you could provide a little perspective. I recall being so worried about sending my oldest child off to college. She struggled with some learning disabilities, and I was concerned college would be too challenging.

My mother-in-law gently said, “I think you should give her a chance.” Her perspective was loving and helpful. I was correct that the college setting was academically difficult for my child and my mother-in-law was right to still provide the experience.

8. Fully discloses information regarding time together. The phrase, “What happens at Grandma’s
stays at Grandma’s” is not ok. This encourages secret keeping and telling lies of omission.

9. Avoids showing favoritism. Love all your grandkids BIG. Enjoy each one and their unique
personalities, gifts, and abilities. Honor their interests and enter their world. Spend
approximately the same amount of money on gifts for each grand.

10. Enforces or supports the parent’s rules and parenting style. Never go against what your
grands’ parents have said. Respect and follow their limits on treats, gift giving, screen time, and
the schedule.

If you want to raise the bar and be a great godly grandparent here are 5 additional ideas…

How to be a great grandparent

11. Pass along your family faith traditions, stories, values, and personal faith to your grands.

12. Pray for them every day.

13. Pray with them. (Of course respect the parents’ wishes if they are not on board with this).

14. Tell your grands your faith story. Talk about how God has moved in your life.

15. Use your time with them to be a mentor and role model.

Our grands are watching how we live our lives. If we want to be a great grandparent, we will be
intentional with the influence God has given us in our grandkids’ lives.

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”

Deuteronomy 4:9