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We Are First-Time Grandparents: How Can We Help?


The arrival of a newborn is probably one of the most exciting times a family can experience. Becoming first-time grandparents is totally thrilling for us; and while it is thrilling for our children as well, it is also a time when they can experience a lot of stress. If we can remember back to when we had our children, we spent many sleepless nights feeding, changing, bathing, and soothing our newborn. Although the arrival of a newborn is a very exciting time, it can also be a very stressful time. Sleep deprivation alone can cause a lot of tension. Do we remember how many sleepless nights we had when we were raising our children?

So, how can we help as grandparents? It’s important to remember that this is a new experience for our children just as it is for us. Stopping in to their home unannounced may not be appreciated. Stopping in to their home with our friends without an invitation can cause a lot of tension and conflict. Remember that your daughter, son, daughter-in-law, or son-in-law may need their own space and time to figure things out for themselves as a couple—a family who suddenly went from two to three (or more) members. Of course, as parents, we want to be as helpful as possible and relieve our children from some of the new responsibilities. We would like to help by cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping, watching the baby, et cetera; as the couple gets some respite. It is best to offer your services once and let them know that you are available at any time, and all they need to do is call you. Then…stop asking. It’s so important for the couple to try to figure things out on their own before involving others.

Daughters typically want their moms to stay for the first or second week after a baby’s birth to help out and be there for support and guidance. If you are a mother-in-law, try your best to respect your daughter- in-law’s wishes; and know that it is totally natural for her to chose her mom. Don’t worry…you will get your chance to spend time with your grandchild. It is important to try not to take this personally. It is not that your daughter-in-law doesn’t like you, but at times like

these she may prefer to have her own mom present with her. Do not think it’s about you. Do your best to be there for help.

As time goes on and your adult children are settling into their routine with their baby, be mindful to ask about visiting. Ask them to let you know when might be a good time to visit, rather than have expectations that you need to visit daily or weekly or just pop in. Ask them to send you a few dates that might work for them, and be respectful of their time. Be there for help and remember you are not there to socialize; you are there to help. Encourage them to take a nap or do something for themselves as you take care of the baby.

Maintaining a good relationship and being respectful of their time and boundaries will lead to the benefit of being trusted family members.

Give them all time they need, so that they can settle into their new routine and responsibilities— as well with one another as a couple. Be confident that if you do this for them, they will reach out to you.

At The Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains, New Jersey, we have a team of licensed professionals available day, evening and weekend hours. Visit us at, or Face Book, or call 908-322-0112.

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