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Grandparent Bootcamp: Do You Need to Enlist?

In the 30 years I’ve talked with grandparents, there has been one common theme: “I’ve raised children myself. I don’t need to be told how to be a good grandparent!”

In the past people tried to set up grandparenting classes, and for the most part they just haven’t panned out. Not enough interest. And yet, in recent years I’m hearing more about classes and workshops geared for expectant grandparents.

It seems to be a growing trend … so what has changed?

Listen: Amy Goyer on WGBH’s The Emily Rooney Show talking Grannies as Nannies

I think baby boomer grandparents are more aware of the fact that while babies haven’t changed much over the years, (they cry, they eat, they sleep, they grow, they poop) the world around them has changed rapidly. These grandparents want to be up on the latest: baby gear, nutrition, infant care and current medical, child-rearing advice, and of course, technologies. All those gadgets! And many grandparents want to be prepared to provide hands-on care for grandchildren; our recent AARP grandparenting study found that nearly one in six grandparents provide daycare for grandchildren while parents work or attend school.

Most grandparenting classes are offered by hospitals and educate about many of the same basics that are offered in parenting classes. All classes emphasize the “back to sleep” information which is new to many grandparents – the most recent research indicates it’s safest for infants up to 7 months to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs to avoid SIDS. Other common topics include:

Sheneq Aranda, owner/founder of Premier Baby Planning in Houston says she is planning to offer a “Grandparents Bootcamp” because many parents attending her parenting classes were saying they wished their parents could take the same class she offered.

“It’s not about changing diapers,” says Aranda, the parent of a 2 ½ year old, “it’s about getting a refresher in infant CPR, up-to-date information on SIDS, choking and so many others things from a professional.”

Many grandparents seek out grandparenting classes on their own. Kudos to you. Others get the suggestion from their adult children … and some are offended by it.

My advice to these expectant grandparents, even you well-seasoned grammies and grampies: If your child suggests you attend a grandparenting class then embrace the idea. Put your ego aside, open your mind and realize that there really is a lot of new information about child safety and such available and, of course, you want what’s best for your grandbabies.

Look at it this way, if your children want you to take the class they must be expecting you to be around your grandchildren a good bit, and that’s a vote of confidence.

Have you taken a grandparenting class? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.

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