Could You Pass Grandparent Class?

Meet a grandparent who enrolled and aced basic training.

By Joanne Camas

First-time grandma Donna Mora recently enrolled in a class. Not at the local community college, but at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, Calif.

"The grandparenting class just sounded like a fun thing to do!" says 56-year-old Mora. "I knew certain things had changed since I had my own children — such as doctors saying babies shouldn't be sleeping on their tummies anymore."

But at her first class, before revealing the latest infant-feeding techniques, Mora's instructor offered a tip for maintaining good relations with the new parents. "We were told to back off and not offer uninvited advice," says Mora.

She realized how nice it was "to be warned" days later when a note arrived from her daughter-in-law in San Diego. In it, she asked that the grandparents-to-be respect the new family's need to bond alone before being inundated with visitors.

"I was glad to be prepared for that letter," says Mora. "My daughter-in-law told us we would be the first to see the new baby. She knew that as a first-time grandmother I might want to rush in. I thought, 'Good for her, setting the boundaries.'"

Curriculum Report

Grandparenting classes do cover more than the new role expecting grandparents are stepping into. Class outlines typically include all that's changed in child safety and childcare practices. Some even include lessons in infant CPR.

"Tips on caring for infants may be delivered best by a health professional or educator," says Nancy Sanchez, who spearheaded Lucile Packard's class. A parent's request for a certain method of caretaking could result in confrontation if a grandparent expresses a preference for a different tactic.

That may explain why Sanchez has seen so many parents enroll new grandparents in her class. They want the grandparents to hear about — and put to use — the same up-to-the-minute childcare tips they're being exposed to in parenting classes. With an increasing number of moms and dads working outside the home, it's grandparents many of them will turn to as everyday caregivers.

Preparing for a New Role

Still, helping expecting grandparents identify their niche tends to be a main focus, says Sanchez. "Often, their roles will shift and it's confusing. At times, they'll have the role of parents. Then they'll transition back to hands-off mode as they hand the child back to the parents."

Worth the Investment?

Mora did see her grandbaby, Sadie, immediately after she was born. And Mora says she's tried hard to respect her son and daughter-in-law's roles as new parents. "I definitely find myself biting my tongue at times! But I really try to wait until I'm asked before sharing my experience."

Would she recommend the class? "Yes! I'd definitely suggest it for first-timers — even experienced grandparents who've never been through such training." Based on what she learned, here's her advice: "Be available," she says, adding with a grin, "and keep your mouth shut!"

A Sampling of Grandparenting Classes Nationwide:

California: Lucile Packard Children's Hospital

Illinois: Northwestern Memorial Hospital

Michigan: Beaumont Health System

Oklahoma: Mercy Oklahoma City

New York: University of Rochester Medical Center

Pennsylvania: St. Clair Hospital

Texas: Medical Center of Plano

Washington: Various Seattle classes


is there any long distance classes? on 2012-10-14 11:59:24

I think I could benefit from taking a grandparenting class! Looking back I know I made mistakes as a first time mom even though my daughter has turned out a major success! Just living in today's world with the constant changes, not to mention the social networking, I know there is information I need to know in order to be the best grandparent I can be for my coming grandchild!

grannytobe on 2012-10-02 03:41:12

Compatibility Horoscope

How well do you get along with your grandchild and other family members? Want to know if your personalities mesh?

Find out here.