Grandparenthood comes with many perks and some responsibilities


David Pereiras -


Who hasn’t heard a friend claiming that being a grandparent is better than being a parent? You get to play with the child but can give them back when you want. Is it really that simple?

Aren’t there “rules” that grandparents ought to abide by?

Let’s address those first, then discuss the opportunities. The following list appears on as the “7 Unbreakable Laws of Grandparenting.” I’ve taken the liberty to change the wording somewhat and added an eighth “law.”

1. Do not give advice unless asked. This is pretty obvious. New parents receive a constant stream of unsolicited advice from relatives, friends, strangers at the grocery store, you name it. I tell parents to inform their own parents (the grandparents) that it is now their turn to make the best decisions they can for their child. By the way, when is it ever a good idea to give unsolicited advice to anyone about anything? This does not mean you will never have an opportunity to weigh in on your child’s parenting methods. They are now young adults and have probably called for advice about money, a leaky faucet, or an employment interview. Now, facing the most important job of their lives, raising their child, they will probably be calling for advice frequently. That will be the best time to give it.

2. You will feel like a grandchild is “yours,” but they’re not.  This is the toughest “law” in my opinion because it’s true. If your relationship with your grandchild’s parents is based on trust (not money, help provided, obligation, or guilt), there will be many opportunities to nurture your grandchild in a healthy manner.

3. Follow the parents’ rules. When you are babysitting, you may find yourself questioning the parents’ instructions for care. This is particularly true when the instructions, and the technologies and equipment used, are different from those you were accustomed to using with your own children. Remember, nobody knows your grandchild better than their own parents. And since information on child rearing keeps changing, it is best if you let your grandchild’s mother and father put their trust in the advice of their pediatrician and reliable websites. Three websites to check out are, and

4. Accept your role. You are a relief pitcher. What’s so bad about that? 2 Bruce Sutter and Mariano Rivera were, and they’re in the Hall of Fame. I had families in my practice where the “relief” role for the grandparents was vital in terms of time committed to such duties as daily daycare or babysitting to give their kids a night out. Whatever the role, embrace it.

5. It is not a competition. Here, we are talking about competing with the other set (or sets in cases of blended families) of grandparents. Your grandchild can only be better off if more people love them and sharing a grandchild often allows couples to become good friends.

Dr. Richard Lazaroff is a retired pediatrician who practiced in St. Louis County for nearly 40 years. Married for 42 years, he is the father of two and grandfather of four and the author of “Some Assembly Required, A Guide to Savvy Parenting.”

6. Respect boundaries. Being a grandparent can create boundary issues. A good rule thumb is whether you would have wanted your own parents to be involved in a particular activity, decision, or life event of your own children. This infers there are some events and decisions a grandparent should never miss and other times when it is best to step back and not be involved.

7. Let go of all expectations. This a good suggestion in life, but especially in your closest relationships. All of us have experienced situations where people or life circumstances do not meet our expectations. Being a grandparent is not an exception. It has highs and lows. It will be unpredictable. It will change you, and if you have the right attitude, those changes can be for the better whatever the outcome.

8. Praise good parenting efforts and behaviors. Your child and their spouse will do a lot of things well when it comes to caring for their new baby, yet initially, they may have little confidence in their abilities. Praise is invaluable. Do not be shy about giving it. Following these rules should result in your child trusting you with their own child. Isn’t that a strange concept? Trust is a critical element to successfully navigating the adolescent years but now the relationship has been flipped. You, the grandparent, need to demonstrate that you can follow these rules and earn your child’s trust. Once this trust is established, we should be granted the full access to our grandchildren that we desire—it comes with the opportunity to watch them develop, to see the world again through a child’s eyes, to provide encouragement and support to both our grandchildren and their parents, and to maybe have them spend the night, so that we are the first ones to hold them when they wake up in the morning smiling in their crib.