How Grandparents Can Support Their Children, When Babies Arrive

So there’s a baby on the way in your family. First of all, congratulations! There’s nothing quite as wonderful as welcoming a new little life into the world.

Frankly, while being a parent had its precious moments as well as its challenges, being a grandparent is an incredible privilege, make sure you embrace it.  Basically, we get to enjoy the best bits of being a parent, but we can also give the little darlings back and enjoy some time to relax.

When there’s a new baby on the way, you might remember just how scary and stressful it was for you. Yes, it’s exciting, but it’s terrifying as well. Well, that’s where mom and dad can be the superheroes your kids and grandchildren need.

Here are some bits of advice I found really helpful when my grandchildren first came onto the scene.

Offer, Don’t Insist

Okay, it’s exciting when your child is about to have a baby of their own, and it’s very easy to get overexcited. This is especially true if it’s the first grandchild because this is new for all of you. Your children will need help in this situation. They’ll need a support system and whatever practical and emotional help that you can offer.

But there’s a danger here. While it’s lovely to be a supportive parent and grandparent, it’s possible to go too far. 

For some reason, when you look at your child, you see them as a child. Even though they’re all grown up and have a family of their own, it’s so difficult to step back and accept that they might not always need your help.

You have a wealth of knowledge and experience, so offer it. For example, if the baby has a skin condition and you can tell the difference between newborn eczema vs acne, it can be helpful to offer suggestions and advice that has worked for you. But try not to push.

It’s nice to be involved, but it’s important to offer help rather than insist on it. For example, some new parents appreciate it when a grandparent provides food or other practical things shortly before and after the birth. But others might decide that they want space for themselves.

This can hurt, but it’s vital to all of you that you keep the door open to help, without forcing your way through. If you offer without pressuring your child, they are more likely to come to you when you’re needed.

Accept Changes and Boundaries

On a similar note, you may have to accept changes in parenting techniques and knowledge. 

I found that children are raised very differently nowadays than when they were when mine were young. The advice is different, so parents are different. This doesn’t necessarily mean that current parenting techniques are wrong or terrible.

It can be very difficult to reconcile the way children are raised now compared to how they used to be. Even in the past twenty years, there’s a huge difference. But one thing to remember is that you’re not the parent now.

You’re the grandparent. It’s your job to be doting to the grandchildren and supportive of the parents. If your children have boundaries and things they expect from their kids, it’s important to support them and their rules, even if it’s not necessarily something you did as a parent.

Work as a team and don’t undermine your children as parents. They will appreciate you all the more and it’s much better for children to have consistency in how they live and are disciplined. Keep the lines of communication with the parents wide open and always let them know how their grandchildren are doing when they’re with you.

Have Fun

Finally, it’s time to enjoy being a grandparent. As a parent, you’re often too worried about the little things in life to have fun as often. Yes, it’s important for everyone to spend quality time with their children, but grandparents have the privilege of leaving the harder parenting stuff to the parents.

Instead, you can take this opportunity to teach your grandchildren and learn from them as well. Teach them skills like baking and gardening, or whatever else you enjoy but their parents might not always have time for.

You should also play games with them. Board games are a great option, but online video games can be a lot of fun and a great way to allow your grandchildren to teach you a thing or two.

Nostalgia and Saudade: Remembering Places of the Past

Sometimes, you just miss a decent cuppa! Nostalgia does that to you.

You just can’t get a brew like a proper British cuppa abroad, can you? Sure, the sunshine’s lovely, and the sangria ain’t bad either, but there’s something about a nice strong cuppa with a biscuit that hits the spot, you know?

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good sunny adventure! But sometimes you just fancy taking a moment and having a trip down memory lane; revisit places that you remember from your childhood.

Things like walking along a promenade with a newspaper full of fish and chips or hiding in little shop doors as you wait for the classic British rain to dry off—there’s a reason we Brits moan so much about the weather—it’s because deep down, we secretly love it!

Sadly, in the UK, many of the places that we remember have changed so much since we last visited. For example, with the announcement of the classic UK holiday village Pontins in Southport closing its doors following the closures of both the Camber Sands and Prestatyn villages in 2022, it feels as though the physical reminders of our memories are slowly disappearing.

Despite losing some of our iconic locations and landmarks, with the magic that is AI, we are fortunately able to visualise what these places would look like today if they were still standing. Chums took advantage of this impressive tool and used it to envision five of the UK’s most nostalgic lost landmarks.

Surprisingly, one of these visualisations made me feel a little sentimental, as it depicted the once-infamous Margate Jetty!

James Walvin claims in his book ‘Beside the Seaside’ that a Margate has had at least one form of landing jetty as early as 1800. Margate Jetty itself was built in 1824. This first iteration was crafted from wood and was then named ‘Jarvis Landing Stage’; this iteration of the jetty was only accessible at low tides and was frequently damaged and needed repairs. It was in November of 1851 that a storm broke the Jetty in two separate places, prompting the decision that a new jetty would be needed to replace the wooden one.

Eugenius Birch, a famous 19th-century English seaside architect, started work on a new design in 1853. In 1855, Margate unveiled the world’s first-ever iron seaside pier, and work was officially completed in 1857, with several additions being added in the following years.

Despite this much stronger structure, the Jetty was still not impervious to the extreme weather of the sea, and in January of 1877, the pier was severed in half by a shipwreck driven by a storm! This incident left 40 to 50 people trapped on the seaward half of the broken Jetty, where they were rescued the following day. There are no known reports of deaths or serious injuries caused by this incident, and the Jetty was repaired once more and remained open nearly a century later, closing in 1977 to safety grounds.

The Jetty remained standing for another year before being almost destroyed entirely by a storm in January 1978. Its skeletal remains stood for a further twenty years before being properly dismantled in 1998.

To this day, pieces of the old jetty continue to wash up on the beach, and many relics of Margate Jetty can be found in the Margate Museum.

The loss of landmarks cannot always be helped, as was the case with the Margate Jetty, but many of our histories are lost due to development. This loss of history can create a sense of Saudade, a longing for something absent. Despite the often good intentions for modernising, it can often feel like they are ripping out a page from your own life story!

Progress, they call it. But sometimes progress feels like losing a bit of yourself, a bit of your history, wouldn’t you say? It makes you long for a time travel machine just to spend an afternoon flicking through the rails of Liverpool’s Littlewoods building or choosing a classic pick ‘n’ mix from your local Woolworths without having to worry about the price tag!

Are there any local landmarks that you wish still stood? Perhaps an old theatre that is long gone or a railway line that no longer runs. Share which lost landmarks you’d love to see brought to life again with AI using #VisionsOfTomorrowUK.