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GRANDCHILDREN Most couples who’ve raised their children look forward to being grandparents with grandchildren close by. In fact, one of the sweetest relationships is that of grandparents and grandchildren. Story | MARY JO RAPINI
randparents are younger today than a decade ago and with that, many times they are still involved with their careers when grandchildren come along. Opting out of babysitting can be difficult, and often grown children can make their parents feel guilty or incompetent by comparing them to grandparents of the past. From the moment they see that sweet grandbaby, most people are wrapped around their grandchild’s fingers, but grandparents are feeling the heat these days and wondering if they must drop their own lives to babysit the grands. Communicating with your kids prior to a baby’s arrival will help ease the transition of how much care you are willing and expected to give. Understanding that the new parents need time alone with their baby, as well as with each other without the baby,
will help you know when to offer help. Here are seven suggestions to help you set boundaries in preparation for grandchildren.
Make a calendar and share it on Google or email with your kids. If you have a favorite exercise class, or class you are taking, make sure it is on the calendar.
List work days and make sure you save a couple of hours for yourself after work—before the kids arrive. Keep things you look forward to, such as girls’ night and date night, intact. Those times are important to your mental health and the health of your marriage.
Pick out at least one night a month to take the grandbabies so you can relieve your kids and allow them a date night as well.
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If you choose to take the kids for a whole weekend, make sure it is a weekend you planned. Don’t take drop-ins unless it’s an emergency.
Be fair with your time. Playing favorites doesn’t work with raising children, and it causes more family tension when kids and grandkids notice.
Have a backup plan— parents should have a backup plan, too. Finding a babysitter in your area for the times you want to help out, but need a plan-B is wise. Grandparents are so important to their grandchildren’s lives, giving them a sense of security and importance—all crucial in today’s ever-changing world— but the more grandparents feel loved and needed rather than used, the more effective they will be. Set yourself up for success!
MARY JO RAPINI Mary Jo Rapini is a Houston-based psychotherapist specializing in sex and relationships. In addition to being a speaker, author and TV personality, she shares her expert advice Tuesday mornings on Mix 96.5 and Friday mornings on Fox 26 Houston. For information, visit maryjorapini.com.