The Privilege Of Being A Grandparent

I have just returned from a glorious stay in Boston celebrating the arrival of our newest grandson. As I dig out of the piles of laundry and mail, I am basking in the memories of spending the last few weeks getting to know the little guy.

Of course I know that the extra set of hands was very helpful for the new parents. But I also recognize how very lucky I am to have had the honor, the joy and the privilege of being present at this most special time.

When our first grandchildren, Chip and Dale, were eight months old I wrote a post called Grandmother’s Manifesto. With baby Andy’s arrival, this seems like a good time to review my rules for being a grandparent.

I hope that Peter and I have done an ok job following these rules but a little reminder is always a good thing.

Grandparent Manifesto

1. The parents are in charge and what they say goes.

This is the most important, the mother of all the others, THE GOLDEN RULE of being a grandparent.

We, with experience and wisdom, might be tempted to think we have all the answers.


These are different times, different circumstances, different parents and different babies.

Many of our old ways have been replaced with newer methods proven to be in the best interest of babies’ health and safety. “I did it this way and you survived.” is a really, really bad reason to insist that your grandchild’s crib be adorned with bumpers, blankets and piles of stuffed animals.

With the internet at their disposal, your children have likely already researched the heck out of every aspect of parenthood and come to many, many decisions about how they wish to raise their babies.

That is their unalienable right as parents.  And it is your responsibility as a grandparent provide unconditional support.

2. Offer but don’t insist.

This rule goes for everything: offering to feed, walk, change diapers, babysit, get up in the middle of the night….  Anything you are willing to do to help out should be presented as a suggestion, not a command (see Rule 1).

being a grandparent

3. It is their news, let them spread it.

With the instantaneous nature of social media, it’s tempting to blab about the babies on Facebook, Twitter or via text message.  When there is some milestone (say Dale’s first tooth) it is NOT the grandmother’s job to spread the news.

The first tooth, the first step, the first whatever is a huge thing for new parents.  Don’t steal their joy in spreading the news.

On a related note, before sharing photos of grandchildren you should get clearance from the baby’s parents. I’m not saying that you have to get approval for every single post. Instead, have a conversation with the parents and get a clear understanding of what they are comfortable with – AND STICK TO IT.

4. Share.

Yes, yes, yes, I know you want nothing more than to snuggle and cuddle and hold the baby all the time.  But share.  Share with aunts and uncles, cousins, friends. Share with whomever the parents ask you to.

Since our family is geographically spread out we try to be extra mindful of the fact that some folks get very little time with the little ones.  They get first dibs.

5. Love, love, love and love some more.

The grandparent cliche is that you can love and spoil the grandkids then send them back to their parents.  I guess that is true.

But I believe that the loving part should guide everything you do as a grandparent. It’s fun to buy presents but the biggest gift you can give the grand babies, their parents and yourself is just to love, adore, cherish and treasure their very being.

Did I miss anything? Parents – anything you would add to my list?

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Thanks for stopping by!


  1. Mo… I remember the first time I read it and I sent it to a friend that was becoming a grandparent for the first time. Very wise words. It’s amazing how many well-meaning grandparents overstep the boundaries. Hope you have a wonderful weekend, dear friend.

  2. I’m not to the Grandmother stage of life just yet, but for the first time last week, I told my Mother she should save some old children’s books for . . . my grandchildren. It will happen someday, but with an 18 and 15 year old, no time soon, please.

    Your rules are perfect. I like the one about not spreading the news for them. We’ve never had a problem with that, but my generation is the one that will have to watch it regarding the social media.

    I’ll tuck these rules away for future reference. Glad you got to have a great visit.
    Leslie Anne recently posted…Comment on Then, the Christmas tree fell down by Leslie AnneMy Profile

    • The “don’t spread the news” rule was the one that prompted me to write the original post. We were visiting the kids and grandkids and were out for lunch when Dale’s first tooth broke through. I was so excited that I texted my mom and sister then immediately realized that I had overstepped my bounds. Lesson learned!
      Mo Lux recently posted…The Privilege Of Being A GrandparentMy Profile

  3. These are perfectection! I have weddings in my future and hope to be a non intrusive mother in law as well as grandmother someday. Can’t wait to have the joy of seeing my daughters experience motherhood 🙂

  4. Love, love love this post from the first time and the reminder especially rule 4. Just booked our trip for January to spoil the 3 little bears with love. Big cousin is over the moon excited.

  5. As a Great Aunt since March I thank you for the Sharing Rule. Happily it is one my sister pays attention to. She sits back and grins whenever I get to visit with her wee grandson. It’s so fun! We both agree we notice SO many more things than we did as exhausted parents. Hope you get some more visits in with your littlies soon!
    Kelly L McKenzie recently posted…Guest Post: Coach Daddy Eli’s First TreeMy Profile

  6. I love this manifesto and will definitely need to remember it. I want my future daughter-in-laws to love me so I don’t want to ever overstep:)
    Glad you were able to spend some time with your new grand baby!
    Kim recently posted…Dropped the Ball on December Challenges but Still Sweating! (11/30 – 12/6)My Profile

  7. This is a great post, I need to send this to my mother and the in-law, they have stepped over boundaries many times and it got really messy at one point. Now they are a little better about it but they will still sneak in some things to “spoil” the grandkids. Meh, fine, but with limits please!

    As I write this the kiddo is spending a week at grandma’s so the hubs and I can spend some precious time alone-we went out to dinner for the first time alone in 6 months! I was freaking out how my tot would handle being away but we talked a few times since yesterday and she and my parents are having a blast! She even said bye to me and hung up on me lol!
    Deanna recently posted…Swedish American Museum and my family’s Swedish connection.My Profile

  8. Loving congratulations to you on the arrival of your new grandson! How perfect that you could be there and I’m sure, I can just imagine you basking in that glow!
    Barbara recently posted…Christmas Cuteness. Christmas Calm.My Profile

  9. Mo, your wisdom is inspiring. Going to bookmark for future (hopefully not too long) reference. Hope to see you during a future visit.

  10. I think this is perfect, Mo. It’s interesting to see the grandparent/grandchild relationship between my kids and their grandparents. Unlike when we were kids, they can text and email and maintain a relationship without the middle generation even getting involved!
    Dana recently posted…My life is real enough, thank you.My Profile

  11. This is a fantastic list! While I hope I am many years from being a grandmother…my kids are all in their teens, I will remember this. We live next door to my in laws and they were always good about this.
    Michelle recently posted…Stuffed Chicken with Goat Cheese and Caramelized OnionsMy Profile

  12. scheduling this to tweet to my 9,000 followers!
    catherine recently posted…Holman Ranch to the RescueMy Profile

  13. I think your rules are perfect, and your grandbabies are blessed to have you! I look forward to seeing my own parents as grandparents in the future!
    Rachel G recently posted…My Favorite Photos of this YearMy Profile

  14. I have four grandchildren and I try to live by these rules, as well as one – to be kind to my daughter-in-laws. My in-laws were not that great to me and I don’t want to repeat that mistake. One thing I struggle with – three of my grandkids are very well-behaved, but that 4th one is a bit of a handful. He’s 13 now and not getting one bit better with age. Every visit we go in with the best of intentions, but we end up just being frustrated to death with him the whole time and biting our tongue not to say anything. It’s sad because it pulls the focus from the other three well-behaved ones. #SITSsharefest
    adrian recently posted…The Dog Whisperer gives me Hope for ParentingMy Profile

  15. I am a first time grandmother of a beautiful baby boy. I absolutely love what you wrote. So much wisdom there. I am going to remember this. Thank you! As a new subscriber to your blog I am enjoying it.

  16. This is beautifully written. You are very wise. I am a first time grandmother and will remember this advice. As a new subscriber, I am enjoying your blog.

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