Enjoying and supporting our grandchildren fun, rewarding

Published Jun 25, 2017 at 7:32pm

Many of us have grandchildren and we often participate in their development.

Some grandparents have custody and are raising their grandchildren. Whether you are babysitting or actually caring for your grandchildren, it is important to provide a structured environment.

While providing structure, it is important to provide consistent love. They may not have known this combination of love and structure and your example may have a major effect on their future.

First consider the children’s health. If you are the caregiver, find a physician you can trust, and follow guidance for immunizations, medication, diet, and obtaining special services.

Grandparents, themselves, should be immunized against whooping cough and, annually, against the flu. Use the doctor for prevention, by keeping up regular visits. Make sure the child has health insurance.

If you do not have custody, try to attend doctor’s visits with the custodial parent. Sometimes it is best, when seeing the doctor with a child, if two adults are there to interact with the medical staff.

Under the age of 3, most children do not attend school. There are preschools available starting from a younger age, but most are expensive. Between the age of 3 and 4, you should find a Head Start or nursery school that the child can attend.

When the children start to public school try to be present in the school, whether or not you have custody. Teachers and staff will appreciate seeing a grandparent and you will understand the child’s experiences better.

If you have custody, make sure you answer teacher’s messages and keep up with activities expected of parents. Help the child with homework, setting a regular time and place for doing it. Keep in touch with the school nurse if there are health-related problems.

Try to find sports, music, art, or religious opportunities that the child will be interested in. He or she may not be with you forever, so finding these links to community resources will be a benefit into the future. Participate in any activities that interest you, but also drop the child off so he or she can learn to cope. Be sure and check in after the activity, to make sure behavior was appropriate.

Make sure the children don’t use too many electronic devices. They need to have outdoor activities. Recruit neighbors and friends to help with this. Limit television to one hour or less per day. Make sure there is a reasonable bedtime and help the child learn to sleep through the night.

Insist on safety rules when driving with grandchildren in the car. Put babies in certified seats. Make sure older children are buckled in. They should not be in the front seat until the age of 12. It is safer for them to be in the back. 

If you have any problems communicating with a grandchild’s parents, try to avoid discussing this in the presence of the children. Assume that they understand everything you say and do not criticize a mother or father, no matter how frustrated you may be.

Your role as a grandparent is to love the children, help keep them safe and healthy, and encourage them to learn in school and in other activities.