Preparing for becoming a grandparent

Joan Pritchett

One minute you're 'Mum'; the next, you're 'Granny'. So, just how to cope with the change to grandparenthood?

Did anyone ask your permission? Did anyone pause to inquire how you might feel about this? Probably not. It's one of those events in life (like being born) where there is no right of refusal.

There are mountains of cooingly sympathetic books and articles giving advice to the new or expectant mother, but granny is somehow expected to muddle through on her own. So here are some tips.

First, you have to get through the business of the breaking of the news. Your daughter (or daughter-in-law) has Something to Tell You, and your reaction is going to be important.

Dozens of questions hurl themselves round your brain and the chief one is: How much of a nuisance is this going to be? Say as little as possible. The best tactic in this situation is a hug. It allows time for some mental arithmetic.

What can you expect in the next months? Prepare for too much information. You will be shown dark swirly pictures which look less like a future grandchild and more like the satellite picture of a nasty storm building up over the Gulf of Mexico.

Try not to laugh when the expectant couple come back from their latest ante-natal class and tell you how beautiful natural childbirth is. Don't remind them that you have had a little experience yourself of giving birth; they're not going to believe you.

Soon you will have to worry about the important matter of Choosing the Name. Not the baby's. Yours.

Remember that what you are called in your role as a grandmother will stay with you for ever. Imagine it, written in flowers and paraded through the streets at your funeral. "There goes Noony," people will say. "It's a merciful release, really."

NEVER leave it until the baby is old enough to make silly noises and come up with a name for you itself.

You will find you are introducing yourself at family gatherings with the words: "Hello, I'm Ga-Ga." In later years, that young person shouting "Grungie" across a crowded shop could be addressing you.

As for the naming of the baby, just stay out of it. As PG Wodehouse observed: "There is raw work pulled at the font from time to time, is there not?"

You will be bombarded regularly with new names as they are chosen and then fall out of favour. "We're thinking of Xerxes," the expectant parents will announce one day. Try not to reply: "I'm thinking of a large gin and tonic."

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.