Grandparenting is a very different experience from one family to the next. Some might share a household with their grandchildren while others live across the country or in different countries. Some are estranged from their children but still have contact with their grandchildren. Regardless of your family situation, a grandparent’s role in a child’s life can be powerful. Here are ways to make it so.

Tips for . . .

  • grandparents with grandchildren ages birth to 5
    • If possible, spend lots of time talking to, touching, and holding your grandchildren. It will create a foundation for a strong relationship as they grow.
    • Take care of your own health, especially if you are a primary caregiver or guardian. Take time each day to relax. Get regular checkups and take any prescribed medications. Talk with friends or find a support group.
    • If you are raising grandchildren, you can find information about your rights, financial considerations, and other information in the Family, Home and Legal section of the AARP Web site. If you need help or Internet access, ask for assistance at a public library.
    • grandparents with grandchildren 6 to 9
    • Play favorites — with all your grandkids. Even if there is one child with whom you have a closer relationship, establish a unique connection with each to let them know they are all important to you.
    • If you are a primary caregiver or guardian and have negative feelings toward your children, do your best to deal with it in ways that don’t involve your grandchildren. If they know you are upset they may feel guilty, worried, ashamed, or unwanted.
    • grandparents with grandchildren 10 to 15
    • Look for shared interests. Teens may enjoy going fishing, playing cards, shopping, baking, or other hands-on activities.
    • Explain to your grandchildren (and their parents if appropriate) the guidelines for behavior in your home. If these differ from what they are used to, talk about it. While it’s great to dote, be clear about what you expect.
    • grandparents with grandchildren 16 to 18
    • Praise more than critique. Your grand-teens might look strange to you, seem awkward, or appear to change from one day to the next. They are changing . . . and figuring out who they are and who they want to be. They need to hear that you still think the world of them.
  • Don’t forget to tell them you love them.

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