Few things in life can compare to the joy you get from becoming a grandparent. "I've heard it said that you love your children, but fall in love with your grandchildren," says Vicki Panaccione, PhD, a child psychologist and "The Parenting Professor" at the Better Parenting Institute. "The role of grandparent is filled with unconditional love with no particular demands for the child's performance."

Ideas for Grandparents

Of course while being a grandparent is such a rewarding role, it also comes with some real responsibilities. In fact, Panaccione says there are many steps and ideas for grandparents to consider in order to keep everyone happy. Here, her "dos" and "don'ts" for good grandparenting:


  • Be supportive of the parents' views and decisions about how to care for and raise the child, even if they differ from your own.
  • Offer suggestions and advice—but only when solicited.
  • Ask how you can be most helpful to the new parents. For instance, do they need help with babysitting, stocking the fridge, or doing the laundry. Make an effort to keep the lines of communication open so the parents can tell you what they need and want from you, and you can express your preferences, too, so everyone will feel satisfied.
  • Recognize that life today has changed a great deal since when you raised your own children, so you can't compare everything to your own experiences. Instead, make the effort to try to understand the parents' current reality.
  • Buy items for your new grandchild, but always ask for the parents' input first so you don't overstep your bounds. There may be things they were looking forward to picking themselves and there may be other items they would welcome for you to provide.
  • Baby-proof your home, buy a car seat for your car, and take any other steps to make your grandchild feel welcome and safe in your environment.
  • Start your own special traditions with your new grandchild, such as telling your favorite story and singing a special song. As the child grows, you can continue to adopt new, age-appropriate favorite things for the two of you to do together.


  • Overstep your grandparenting role. New parents need to have a chance to find their own parenting style and make their own mistakes, so you'll need to remember that you're the grandparent and not the parent.
  • Give unsolicited advice. It can be tempting to share all of the lessons you've learned yourself, but some new parents may see your comments as criticism so only share your thoughts when asked.
  • Criticize one parent to the other, which can be discouraging and can undermine the parents' ability to work together as a unified team.
  • Ignore the parents' rules and limits. It's okay to spoil your grandchild, but it's important to do so within the boundaries the parents have set for their child.

Vicki Panaccione, PhD, reviewed this article.


Panaccione, Vicki, Ph.D. Child Psychologist and Parenting Expert, The Parenting Professor, Better Parenting Institute. Email interview. 19 April 2013.