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12 Ways to Be the Best Grandparent You Can Be

Be their favorite grandparents with these expert tips. 

Now that your kids are adults, you can focus on the next most important job of your life: Grandparent. No matter their age, there are clear generational differences between you and them – but that doesn't mean you can't connect with them. Here are 7 expert tips to be the best grandparent you can be. 

Teach Them to Respect Others

two asian grandparents with granddaughter on their shoulders, best gifts for grandparents
Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

"Teach your grandchildren manners by modeling respect for them and others," explains Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., author of Fragile Power: Why Having It All Is Never Enough "In our current ethos of cancel culture and ideological differences, there is great value in teaching our offspring the value of manners." This can be as simple as writing thank you cards, reminding them to say please and thank you, and holding doors open for others. 

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Child getting messy eating spaghetti with tomato sauce from a large plate, by itself with his hands

Let their parents sweat the small stuff – not you – says Dr. Hokemeyer. "Accept that they will listen to music, wear clothes, and speak in ways that will annoy you," he adds. 

Ask Them to Teach You Things

Grandmother and granddaughter are making selfie on a smart phone while cooking on kitchen.

You might not understand or be interested in things your grandchildren are, but asking them to teach you will offer a connection. "Sure it's easy to get your feelings hurt that they spend too much time gaming when in your presence, but you can develop a meaningful connection with them by asking them to teach you how to game," Dr. Hokemeyer says. 

Never Talk Badly About Their Parents

Grandfather talking to granddaughter

You might have things to say about one of their parents, but resist the urge. In other words, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. If you do, you might regret it. "Doing so, while perhaps making you feel vindicated in the moment will only leave them feeling sad, rejected and push them away from you," says Dr. Hokemeyer. 

Gift Them Experiences

grandparents and grandchildren, things that annoy grandparents

The best gifts of all are the ones that can't be bought, says Dr. Hokemeyer. "You do not exist to provide bling for their Instagram or Tik Tok accounts. You are there to teach them the true meaning of love and how to be a person of value and integrity in a world that has become too obsessed with material consumption," he explains.

Make Meals Fun

Asian baby boy eating blend food on a high chair

Instead of taking them out to eat, make mealtime a playful activity recommends grandmother and dietician Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of, author of Read It Before You Eat It – Taking You from Label to Table. "Studies have shown that kids that 'play' with their food by helping to create and prepare simple recipes are much more likely to eat such foods including fruits and vegetables that they otherwise would have passed on," she says. A few ideas:

–Have a DIY pizza night. "Put out different bowls of toppings including greens, mushrooms, tomatoes, colorful peppers, pineapple, and so on and let the kids create personal pies by topping their doughs, sauce and cheese bases," she says.

–The same DIY "cereal bar" can be created with different types of cereals and a variety of fruits. "I'd encourage using low sugar cereals as well as those that provide fiber," she explains. 

Show Them Photos


Another way to connect with your grandkids? "We love showing our grandkids photos. They love seeing photos of themselves growing up, and this is also a wonderful opportunity to share photos of family members they may not know or did not have the chance to meet. They'll surely get lots of laughs seeing baby photos of you, their grandparents," she says.

Demonstrate and Teach Respect

Grandmother hugging her granddaughter while sitting on a couch

Hokemeyer stresses the importance of teaching your grandkids manners and how to respect themselves and others. "Show them the importance of holding a door open for others, writing handwritten thank you notes and saying please and thank you to everyone, especially people who are providing services," he says. 

Accept Them for Who They Are

grandparents playing board game with granddaughter
Shutterstock/VP Photo Studio

Don't sweat the small stuff, recommends Hokemeyer. "Regardless of how much you love them, your grandchildren are going to do things that get on your nerves. Such is the nature of human beings from different generations," he explains. Accept that they will listen to music, wear clothes, and speak in ways that will annoy you. "But unless they are doing something that is risking their lives or the lives of others, let it go."

Demonstrate Curiosity

Girl whispering in surprised grandmother's ear
fizkes / Shutterstock

You don't need to understand them, but you should try. "In a similar vein, instead of holding contempt for your generational differences, develop curiosity about them," says Dr. Hokemeyer. "Sure it's easy to get your feelings hurt that they spend too much time gaming when in your presence, but you can develop a meaningful connection with them by asking them to teach you how to game."

Support Their Parents


Speak well of their parents, especially one you dislike, recommends Hokemeyer. "Regardless of how much you disprove or even disdain one of their parents, guardians or step parents, don't share anything negative with your grandkids about them," he explains. Doing so might result in them pushing you away. 

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Give Them Love, Not Gifts

grandfather playing with granddaughter

Finally, give them the gift of experiences not things, says Dr. Hokemeyer.  "Show up for them physically and emotionally in whatever way you can. Avoid basing your relationship on money or external markers of success. Give your love and emotional support. Let them know you are a fan, and not a critic."

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more
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