Babysit wisely. Be willing to babysit your grandchildren when you can, and do your best to care for them well while they’re with you. Set clear boundaries with your grandchildren’s parents so they’ll know how often and how long you’re available to babysit, and you won’t feel resentful. Before you get together with your grandchildren, have a plan for how to use your time with them in fun and meaningful ways. Protect your grandchildren when they visit you by making sure your house is safe for them (such as by placing medicines and cleaning solutions out of reach) and making sure you’re prepared in case of an accident (such as by having a first aid kit on hand and knowing how to perform CPR). Ask their parents to let you know their schedules, needs, rituals, etc., and show respect for them. Talk with their parents about how to handle discipline whenever you need to correct them for something. Respect the parents’ rules, if you don’t agree with them.

Connect with teenage grandchildren. Know that you can still enjoy close relationships with your grandchildren even when they become teenagers. Just keep in mind that you should accept them for who they are, be patient with them, take the initiative to find out about what’s going on in their lives (such as by asking them thoughtful questions), and getting to know their culture so you can engage in discussions that are relevant to them.

Reach out across long distances. If you live a long distance away from some or all of your grandchildren, keep in touch as often as you can through e-mails, phone calls, letters, notes, exchanging digital photos, etc. Try to visit them for the celebrations and milestones in their lives, like holidays, recitals, baptisms, and graduations.

Adapted from Extreme Grandparenting: The Ride of Your Life, copyright 2007 by Dr. Tim Kimmel and Darcy Kimmel. Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Il., www.tyndale.com.

Dr. Tim Kimmel and his wife, Darcy, are cofounders of Family Matters, a ministry dedicated to equipping families for every age and stage of life, and speakers for FamilyLife ministry’s I Still Do and Weekend to Remember events. Tim is also the author of several books, including Little House on the Freeway and Raising Kids for True Greatness. A former radio talk show host, Tim has also appeared on several radio and television programs as a featured guest. He received his doctor of ministry degree from Western Seminary.