How to help without stepping on toes

It’s a boy! Or a girl! All you care is that you have a new grandbaby. You want nothing more than to spend all your time showering the little sweetheart with affection, but there’s a catch – sometimes you get the impression the parents wish you would back off.

Here are five tips to help you marvel at the baby’s perfectly tiny toes without stepping on the parents’ toes.

1. Respect the Parents’ Rules.

This is a big one. You may not approve of all the parenting rules. You might think that the rules are based on inexperience and that time will show that your ways are superior. You might even be right.

This doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to undermine the parents’ rules. In fact, doing so is the quickest way to get your time with the new grandbaby severely limited.

If the parents want the baby to sleep on his back, don’t place him on his stomach. If the parents say insist on organic treats, don’t try to sneak forbidden foods. You get the idea.

2. Avoid Insulting the Parents.

Resist the temptation to make subtle (or not so subtle) jabs. Avoid unflattering comparisons, whether it’s personal or about modern parents in general. If you say that today’s parents just don’t know what they’re doing, not like parents back in your day, today’s parents might take offense – and that includes the parents of the grandbaby you want to step time with.

Also keep in mind that sincere attempts to help could be misinterpreted as insults. Offering to clean the house, for example, could be seen as a way of implying that the housekeeping is not up to par.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help, just be aware of the subtleties and proactively communicate to avoid any misunderstandings.

3. Make It a Treat for You and the Parents.

You want to spend time with your new grandkid, but don’t forget to think about what the parents want. This may be a nap or a shower. Later, it may be a night out. Present yourself as a babysitter ready to help out when the parents need time off.

4. Understand That Your Presence May Not Always Be Appreciated.

The parents might want a break, but they also might want the opposite – time to bond. It’s your new grandkid, but it’s their new child. It’s natural for the parents to want some time alone with the baby to bond as new family.

5. Just Ask.

Clear communication is always the best route. If you’re not sure how the parents feel about something you want to do, just go ahead and ask. Likewise, if you want to help but aren’t sure how, just ask.

Becoming a new grandparent is an exciting milestone. By following these five steps, you can avoid unnecessary conflicts and have more of the quality time you treasure.