Congratulations! It's time to reap the rewards of parenthood. Time to feel special and wonderful and beautiful and proud. Time to fall in love again. The work is over - now the fun begins!
Have you been eyeing baby clothes for years? Or did the news take you completely by surprise? Were you shocked at the vision of your son as a father? Did you give not-so-subtle hints to your daughter? Maybe you were looking forward to the announcement, but when it came, you were secretly anxious. You're not alone. In fact, even if you have a closet full of pink and blue baby clothes, it's natural to be a little bit nervous. After all, grandchildren are living proof that your children are getting older. Luckily, being a grandparent is one of the most rewarding roles you'll ever have.
No matter what your immediate thoughts are about becoming a grandparent, once the reality sinks in, instinct takes over. Your baby is going to have a baby. Seems like yesterday, you were the one changing diapers. Your concern is natural. Give your children as much information as possible, then trust biology for those maternal or paternal instincts to kick in (and keep an open telephone line, just in case).
Overwhelming excitement is as natural as a little concern, and it doesn't go away - not for the second grandchild or the third, or even, as many grandmothers have told me, the 15th. Each baby is another jewel in your crown.
Knowing that your bloodline will extend into the future brings a sense of immortality - and pride. After all, what the world really needs is more of you, right? Your imprint will be on Earth for decades, if not centuries, to come. Immortality is even more clear when the family name - as well as your blood - lives on.
It's not just blood, however, that determines ancestry. If your children or grandchildren are adopted, your influence has profound significance. Your grandchildren may pick up your sense of humor or your loyalty or your zest for life. They will certainly blossom from your spiritual gifts and, in turn, they will pass them on to the next generation. Grandchildren are a magic potion that lets you live forever.
You can't choose to be a grandparent. You can, however, choose what kind of grandparent to be. Suddenly, those nine long months are up, and you are biologically connected to a brand new person. As a grandparent, you can explore the world from a fresh perspective, nurture and influence the future, and enjoy a wonderful relationship with a child who wants to love you forever. You can make a difference in your grandchildren's lives, and you can have fun doing it!
So take advantage of the happiness ahead: learn how to be a "great" grandparent.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Parenting advice is given as a suggestion only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider.