The question: “How often should Grandparents see their Grandchildren?” can only be answered by you. In order to please everyone, there is a fine balance to reach that may require compromise on both sides.
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As you probably know if you’ve read anything else on this website, I am a Grandmother. I am writing this article from that perspective. Whether you are a Grandma, too, or the one having or raising the Grandchildren and want to share any advice I may have missed, please express your feelings or suggestions in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
How Often Should Grandparents See Their Grandchildren?
Family dynamics can vary greatly from one family to the next. And within those families, individuals are, well, individuals.
How often Grandparents should see their Grandchildren is as diverse as the family they claim as their own. The perfect answer to this question will depend on the people involved, but here are a few guidelines and suggestions to help you sort through the variables and reach your own solution.
From the time she finds out she is pregnant and throughout the life of the Grandparent/Grandchild relationship, there will be issues that arise, hurdles to cross, boundaries to set, and compromises to be made. This will be true until those children reach adulthood and are able to make their own choices about their interactions with their Grandparents.
With the increasing life-expectancy of Grandparents, Grandchildren may have their Grandparents well into their adult years as is the case with my own sons. They are in their mid-thirties and are extremely fortunate to still have good relationships with all 4 of their Grandparents, who are in their 80s.
Here are some things to think about when you’re deciding on an appropriate visiting schedule.
Before the baby arrives and before there is really an issue, take time to look ahead. If this is the first Grandchild, especially if it is the first on both sides, circumstances will be different for you than if this is #7.
So this could be the first baby/grandchild for everyone. Or it could be the first baby for these parents. Or this may be one of many children/grandchildren that have entered your family.
Local Grandparents will likely have more frequent access than long-distance ones, but your visits may be longer. A few days at a time instead of a few hours.
The position of the child in the family will make a difference in the reaction and involvement level you experience.
Before this baby arrives, talk about it. Talk about expectations. Grandparents, how often do you plan to visit? How often is your son or daughter expecting you (or want you) to visit? Be truthful. Compromise. Refrain from being a burden, intrusive or nosy. Answer questions when you’re asked, but keep opinions to yourself.
And don’t plan on being in the delivery room. There might be a slight chance you’d be invited, but likely not. Unless the mother asks you in, expect to be in the waiting room or at the other end of the phone line waiting for the news.
And while you’re waiting, take a look at our Grandmother Journal and start keeping track of things now!
Once that baby arrives, especially that first Grandchild, I expect that you as a Grandparent will want to see this child. Often. Hopefully, you followed the advice in the previous section and have made a plan with the baby’s parents – to be helpful, available and supportive as agreed upon.
If you neglected this step, head there right now. The best way to see your Grandchild is through respectful means. Don’t drop in, don’t give unsolicited advice, or make comments about their “rules”. Instead, call ahead. Come when you are invited. Offer to keep other little ones so their Mom and Dad can have some time with the new addition.
As the newness subsides, the frequency of visits should, too. How often Grandparents visit their Grandchildren as newborns will depend on their location, the previous state of your relationship, past record of behavior and needs of the parents. Don’t push. Be kind.
The question of how often Grandparents should visit their Grandchildren does not necessarily have a black and white answer, either. Do you visit too much? Not enough? No matter which end of the spectrum the situation is currently on, it is important to find a happy medium, that will satisfy both the grandparents and the grandchildren, as well as the parents.
As they grow, babies turn into toddlers. They start to walk, speak, and play. What a fun time to be able to visit with your Grandchildren! Offer to babysit for date night. Negotiate a regularly scheduled visit time so everyone knows what to expect. Replace a physical visit with a visit on FaceTime. Technology is a great way to increase how often Grandparents can enjoy their Grandchildren.
How often should Grandparents see their Grandchildren? If they have a challenging toddler, the parents might find that “too often” doesn’t exist. The opportunity for parents to have little “break” may be to Grandma’s advantage!
As a long-distance Grandparent, you could try this option. Visit through a book! Make a photo book with pictures of you and your Grandchild. Then whenever you are missed, mentioned in a conversation, or before a FaceTime conversation, your Grandchild can look at the book as a reminder of you.
As toddlers become preschoolers, they can finally express themselves and tell you how they feel and what they want. And in my opinion, they are more fun at this age, too. (Just kidding, I’ve loved EVERY stage so far!) But, really, they can carry on a conversation, play a game, tell jokes and sing along to the radio.
This is also a good age to babysit. The toddler anxiety may have subsided a bit and the idea of a fun time with Grandparents sounds good to your Grands.
And, if you have the proper car gear, the parents might even let you take them places. Going to the zoo, a children’s museum, or even for an overnight visit or campout will allow the Grandparents to see Grandchildren more often.
The frequency of Grandparents visiting Grandchildren may decrease as they enter elementary school and eventually become teenagers. But other types of contact may increase. Attend their sporting events, school functions, programs, and other activities. Go on short trips together – fishing, to the beach, hiking or something similar. Go to a concert, a movie or play, or a baseball game. Ask about their interests and let them share things with you that they enjoy. Your time together may be less frequent, but can still be meaningful and memorable.
If you are a long-distance Grandparent, it may be possible to have your Grandchild come to stay with you for a week during summer break. One of my husband’s fondest childhood memories is of spending a week each summer with his Grandparents and cousins. Or meet up with the family for a few days during their vacation, if they don’t mind. Find creative ways to visit your Grandchildren.
Experiences and Opinions of Others
In writing this article, I interviewed several mothers and Grandmothers. Here are a few of their comments about Grandparents visiting Grandchildren.
“It’s obviously a personal thing and depends on your relationship with them but as someone whose family lives thousands of miles away, we would love to have grandparents around for our kids and they would adore it, too. Believe me, you miss them when they aren’t around…”
“As a Grandparent, I adore my Grandchildren. Every minute we spend with them is precious. Talking with my daughter-in-law about how often we visit was really helpful. They appreciate breaks from the baby and giving them a chance to get away for an evening is fun for us, too. We have agreed to say when it’s too much or not enough. This understanding has made for a great relationship between us!”
“My parents live close by but have little interest in spending time with my kids. It makes me sad that they are missing out on all the advantages of a close relationship with their Grandparents. And my kids are pretty awesome – their Grandparents are missing out, too!”
“I’d love to see my Grandchildren more often, but they live far away. We visit occasionally and stay for a few days at a time. When we aren’t there, we still keep in touch about once a week through FaceTime. I’ve even started writing letters to them which they LOVE! I still feel like we have a close relationship because we are determined to stay in touch.”
“My mother-in-law won’t go away. She drops in whenever and stays forever. Good grief, she acts like my baby is HER baby! I want them to be close, but there should be some rules. Why can’t she take a hint? Thanks for bringing this up, I’m going to have a talk with her and let her know it’s not OK.”
So, How Often Should Grandparents See Their Grandchildren?
Determine how often Grandparents should see their Grandchildren for your own family. Each phase will offer its own challenges. Remember to take a step back and think about the perspective of the other people involved.
There is a fine line between being there too much and seen as overbearing and meddlesome, and not being there enough and viewed as uncaring and apathetic.
Communicate. Talk to each other. Set boundaries and expectations. Be willing to compromise.
The bond between children and their Grandparents can be a rewarding experience. Studies have shown good relationships between Grandparents and Grandchildren to be instrumental in creating a solid emotional foundation.
Do what you can to ensure Grandparents and Grandchildren have an opportunity to make a positive and fulfilling connection.
And Keep Passing Down the Love,