Advice for First-Time Grandparents: What to Expect & How to Prepare

grandma holding her baby grandchild at home and kissing them

Becoming first-time grandparents can be both an exciting and overwhelming experience. 

 

While there are many things to look forward to, such as getting to spend time with your new grandchild and seeing your child become a parent, it’s normal to feel unsure of what to expect. 

 

Today, we bring you some advice on what to expect and how to best prepare for your new role as a grandparent.

 

What to Expect as First-Time Grandparents

#1. An Emotional Rollercoaster

If you’re becoming a first-time grandparent, you can expect to feel a wide range of emotions. While you may be excited and proud, you may also feel a bit nervous or apprehensive. These feelings are perfectly normal. After all, you’re about to embark on a new and exciting journey. 

 

The first few weeks or months can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, so it’s important to be prepared for that. But not to fret – it’s mostly positive. 

 

According to research, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about your future as a grandparent. A recent study found that expecting grandparents were significantly more likely to report higher levels of happiness, resilience, and self-rated physical health

 

In other words, becoming a grandparent can have a positive impact on your well-being. So even if you’re feeling nervous, try to focus on the excitement and anticipation of this new chapter in your life.

 

#2 A Change in Lifestyle

Becoming a first-time grandparent is a huge milestone. It’s a time to both celebrate with your loved ones and make some adjustments. These days, grandparents are more likely to be actively involved in their grandchildren’s lives than ever before.

 

So much so that 72% of American grandparents say they’ve cared for a grandchild in the last 12 months providing occasional babysitting, and 22% provided regular child care. 

us grandparents less likely to provide regular childcare

 

Depending on your family’s situation and need for help, you may need to make some changes to your lifestyle to accommodate your new grandparent role (unless of course, you’re going to be a long-distance grandparent). Either way, these lifestyle changes will probably be for the better. 

 

#3 A Deeper Understanding of Parenting

Becoming a first-time grandparent and taking in the joys and challenges of intergenerational relationships can also give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for parenting. 

 

While it may be challenging at times, watching your child become a parent can be an incredibly rewarding experience. 

 

You’ll get to see first-hand the unconditional love that they have for their child and the lengths they will go to in order to keep them safe and happy. And it’ll also make you think about how you raised your own children and learn how your child does things differently. 

 

5 Tips for First-Time Grandparents 

#1 Set Expectations

Talk to your child about their expectations and what role you’ll play in your grandchild’s life. It’s vital that you’re on the same page from the start. The last thing you want is to be too involved and end up crossing boundaries. Or not get the opportunity to spend as much time with them as you’d hoped.

 

According to AARP, 15% of grandparents struggle with setting the right boundaries as a grandparent — both with children and grandchild(ren). So start by asking your child how they would like you to be involved. 

 

  • Do they want you to babysit often? 
  • Take the grandkids on trips
  • Be there for special occasions? 
  • Or simply provide support and advice when needed?

15% of grandparents struggle with setting the right boundaries as a grandparent

 

As much as you’d love to be there every moment you can, it’s their child, and they get to decide how to raise their kids and much involvement you have. Once you know their expectations, you can prepare accordingly.

 

#2 Offer Advice If Asked

One of the hardest things about being a grandparent is knowing when to offer advice and when to bite your tongue. It can be tempting to want to share your wisdom and parenting styles with your children and grandchildren but resist the urge. 

 

Your kids are adults now, and they have their unique way of raising their own kids. 

 

According to the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital’s poll, one in seven parents limit the amount of time their child sees their grandparents due to disagreements over parenting styles. So don’t offer advice unless they specifically ask for it.

 

This doesn’t mean that you can’t offer help; simply let them come to you. If they’re struggling with a problem, offer your support and let them know that you’re there for them, which they’ll appreciate. And who knows? You might even learn a thing or two from them.

#3 Stick to Their Rules

Being a grandparent is one of the most rewarding experiences life has to offer. But it can also be fraught with potential landmines, especially when it comes to maintaining a good relationship with your children. 

 

One of the most important things to remember is to should stick to the rules laid out by your child. 

 

Your child is now the parent, and you are the grandparent. This means there are likely to be some new rules in place that your grandchild (and you) will need to follow. In fact, almost half of the parents surveyed by Mott Children’s Hospital have asked a grandparent to change their behavior to be consistent with their choices or rules. 

 

parents vs grandparents - the main disagreements on raising children:

 

Respect the parenting style of your child and don’t try to impose your own ideas or values on them. Instead, try to support and encourage them as they navigate this new stage in their life. 

 

It can be tempting to want to do things your way, but it’s important to let the parents lead. They know their kids better than anyone and will appreciate your deferring to their judgement. By following their rules, you’ll avoid potential conflict and maintain a good relationship with your child. And that’s what’s most important.

 

#4 Offer Help (When Needed)

If you’re a grandparent, chances are you’re excited to finally have some quality time with your grandkids. But before you get too involved, it’s important to remember that the parents may not want or need your help every minute of every day. So how can you strike the right balance?

 

Try to offer help when it’s needed, but don’t be pushy. Respect their space and give them a chance to bond with their kid on their own. 

 

For instance, if the parents need a break, offer to babysit so they can have some time to themselves. But don’t overstay your welcome – know when it’s time to hand the baby back and head home.

 

In a nutshell, being a grandparent is a wonderful experience, but remember that you’re not the parent. By striking the right balance, you’ll be able to enjoy your time with both your kids and grandkids without overstepping your bounds.

 

#5 Enjoy This Special Time

There’s nothing quite like becoming a first-time grandparent. The joy of seeing your child become a parent themselves is hard to put into words. And according to research, it’s also one of the most satisfying things you can experience in life. 

 

In a recent study, people were asked to rate their level of life satisfaction. Those who had children and grandchildren were consistently more satisfied with their lives than those who didn’t.

life satisfaction of those with(out) living children and grandchildren

 

That’s why one of the best pieces of advice anyone can give to first-time grandparents is to simply be present, practice mindfulness, and enjoy this special time. Like all things wonderful in life, it goes by quickly, so take lots of pictures, make plenty of memories, and soak up as many snuggles and as you can.

 

New Role, New Responsibilities

So, if you’re about to become a first-time grandparent, congratulations! It’s sure to be a rewarding and life-changing experience. 

 

You’ll likely have a lot of unkowns, and that’s totally normal. Learning as you go is part of the fun. Here’s what you can expect:

 

  • #1 An emotional rollercoaster — there’s no denying that becoming a grandparent is a huge life event and you’ll feel a range of emotions, from excitement and happiness to anxiety 
  • #2 A change in lifestyle — depending on how involved you’ll be, you can expect your weekly routine to change as you take on grandparenting duties
  • #3 A deeper understanding of parenting — seeing your child become a parent can be both rewarding and emotional, giving you a new perspective on parenting

 

And to prepare for becoming a first-time grandparent:

 

  • #1 Set expectations — talk to your child about how involved you’ll be and what role you’ll play in your grandchild’s life
  • #2 Offer advice if asked — don’t give out unsolicited advice, but be open and honest if your child comes to you with questions or concerns
  • #3 Stick to their rules — respect the parenting style of your child and follow their rules when you’re around the grandkids
  • #4 Offer help (when needed) — offer to babysit or help out around the house, but don’t overstay your welcome or cross boundaries
  • #5 Enjoy this special time — be present and savor every moment because it flies by

 

Get ready to embark on an amazing adventure as you accept your new role and responsibilities as a new grandparent. Although it can be exhausting at times, there’s nothing quite like seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

 

The most important thing, though, is just being there for your family and showing them how much you love them. That’s what being a grandparent – and parent – is all about.

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portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach
Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion. Through her signature program Rewire My Retirement, she helps people achieve their best life across the 5 Rings of Retirement, which covers topics Growth, Community, Health, Giving Back, and Finance.


Cyn combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.

portrait of Cyn Meyer, founder of Second Wind Movement and a certified retirement life coach

Cyn Meyer 

Retirement Life Coach

As a certified retirement life coach since 2018, Cyn has helped thousands of older adults turn their retirement years into remarkable years full of growth, purpose, and passion (beyond the stereotypical financial planning side of retirement). 

She combines specific life coaching tools, neuroscience, and her extensive background in marketing (spanning 17 years) to make a powerful impact with Second Wind Movement – an organization dedicated to providing educational resources and coaching for seniors.

With meticulous research, insight, and passion, Cyn’s mission is to usher in a new wave of positive experiences for generations of retirees.