Second Wind: Grand advice for the older set |

Second Wind: Grand advice for the older set

I always thought grandparenting would be a piece of cake. You’ve raised one set of kids, and now there’s another set in the family. How hard can it be?

You already know how to change a diaper. It’s just deja poo all over again. And the rest will follow along from there. Right?

Probably not. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to be a grandparent and after 12 of them, I begin to think I should have gone to grandparent school.

Even the best of us will make mistakes, offering advice when we should shut up, buying the wrong presents, overhelping, under-helping and just generally screwing up when it was really our intention to be wonderful grandparents and to receive, unasked, a license-plate holder that announces to the world we are the best grandparents in it.

Help for hapless grandparents

Well, parents have their guidebooks for raising children, but until recently, the older generation didn’t have much in the way of readable resources for good grandparenting.

But now, there’s a magazine called GRAND, and I recently interviewed the founder and CEO of the magazine, Christine Crosby, a grandmother herself so she knows the turf. Christine told me there are six top mistakes that grandparents make. (Only six! I figured she hadn’t been watching me. I batch-process mistakes in this area.)

Here are the top six mistakes:

• Telling the world about an upcoming baby before the parents have a chance to do it themselves. Wait until they want to announce the pregnancy.

• Offering your unsolicited opinions about the naming of the baby. Yes, parents might pick something so off-the-wall you’ll wonder what they were thinking. But shut up.

• Offering your unsolicited opinions about upbringing. Yes, you and I are Spock-certified, hardened by field experience, but times change and so does parenting advice. My rule: unless they are about to step off a cliff, be quiet.

• Hanging around their house like the king and queen of the family instead of helping with dishes or babysitting. The most valued grandparents seem to be the ones that pitch in. (My contribution is small, but tasty. I teach some of the older grandkids how to make slow cooker meals for their parents.)

• Buying gifts before you ask. Some parents have very definite ideas about what toys are allowed in the house, what kinds of clothes they want for their kids and what kind of electronic gadgets are OK.

There’s also the danger issue. Some products may be great for the older kids in a family, but bad for the smallest. You may want to buy a set of Legos for the first-grader, but the rug rat in the family may like to eat Legos. So ask.

• Not following the parents’ rules. You may not agree with the rule that little Johnny can never eat candy or isn’t allowed out on Halloween, but again, it’s their call, not yours.

Words to the wise

GRAND magazine is available with a free trial subscription at or 800-810-0260. The content is wide-ranging with information about health and life in the older lane plus profiles of famous grandparents like Tina Turner and Mick Jagger. (I am seriously glad he is not my son-in-law. Imagine following his rules.)


Mel Walsh is the author of the fun advice book “Hot Granny,” now in its second printing and a great girlfriend stocking stuffer for the holidays. Visit Mel at

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