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Why new grandparents are going back to school

If you were to administer a test on the do's and don'ts of raising kids in 2014, there's a very good chance that most new parents would ace the exam, while most new grandparents may find themselves feeling both slightly embarrassed and in dire need of a parenting refresher course.

While the idea of a parenting refresher course may seem strange or even fictitious, many organizations across the nation -- including right here in Texas -- regularly put on such events for newly anointed grandparents who haven't had to care for a baby in 20 or even 30 years.

To illustrate, the Texas Children's Pavilion for Women in Houston now puts on a seminar that not only teaches grandparents about how childcare has evolved, but also about how to avoid becoming overbearing without even realizing it. 

In these classes, grandparents learn about everything from car seat safety and proper feeding techniques to baby products no longer considered safe (baby walkers, crib bumpers, etc.) and proper sleeping techniques.

"They're not to go to bed on their stomach -- I always put my babies on their stomach thinking that was the way they should sleep. ... I had all kinds of things in the crib... (and) there's nothing in the crib now," remarked one grandparent of her learning experience.

As stated above, the classes also teach grandparents on the etiquette concerns that accompany their new position in life. For instance, grandparents are advised on everything from honoring the parenting styles of their children to not getting too involved in important immediate family decisions (baby names, baptisms, etc.).

"This is not about you -- it's about what this mom and this couple wants for the baby," one of the teachers at the Pavilion tells her grandparent pupils. "You're not the coach anymore; you're not calling the shots. They are, and either you follow their rules or you might find yourself benched."

All this, of course, serves to underscore how many grandparents play an active role in the lives of their grandchildren from day one, and how it can prove to be especially devastating when they find themselves denied access to them when a divorce settlement awards custody to a former son or daughter in-law.

The good news in all this, however, is that grandparents do have options for securing visitation rights and, as such, should strongly consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to learn more about these options.

Source: Today Parents, "Back to sleep, and back off: Classes teach grandparents new rules of raising kids," A. Pawlowski, May 5, 2014

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