Behold Georgy and baby Lara.  On the 15th December 2014 I became a grandfather. Little Lara came into the world and I can now stop secretly worrying about things totally out of my control…

With this new qualification and experience, I feel it is an appropriate time to contribute some guidelines:

1)            Just because it happened to you, doesn’t mean it will happen to your daughter.

So many times I hear remarks like “Well I couldn’t breastfeed you, so you’ll probably have problems too”. This is unhelpful.

2)            Bring food and cleaning equipment, not advice (unless it’s asked for).

That’s what new mothers need: household support and food. Get her permission then clean her house, tidy her pantry, water-blast the driveway, mow the lawn. Let mother feed the baby and sleep.

3)            The baby does not look like you or your family, or if she or he does – keep it to yourself: your son or daughter-in-law may not appreciate being cut out.

Families can get quite possessive about the newcomer. Don’t compete for genetic claims. It’s the baby’s nose not Uncle Harold’s.

4)            Don’t push the father aside and take over.

New fathers need hands-on experience. It’s okay for him to handle the baby as if they’re made of glass. Don’t interfere.

5)            Text her before phoning or visiting. Don’t just drop in.

She might have just finally got to sleep after a long night feeding.

6)            Always wash your hands before handling the baby and do NOT kiss the baby for the first few months. Your germs are not welcome.

Babies are virtually germ-free in the womb and become colonised with the germs in their immediate family after birth. At birth babies have in their blood antibodies from their mother, which protect the baby from those germs on and in her body (and hence those of their father too). They do not have antibodies for your germs. For instance many of us carry the cold sore virus (herpes) in our saliva. This is dangerous for new babies unless they have the antibody for it.

Now is a good time to finally sever the apron strings (or cut the umbilical cord) with your children. They are parents now and have to make their own decisions. It may be hard but you now need to back off.  Let them do it their way. You had your go, now it’s their turn.

From “Your Cherished Baby” (PanMacmillan Australia) 2014. p.93

‘Be here now, and don’t miss this time with them. When they are older and busy with their friends, you’ll wonder where they are. When they move away and get married, you’ll seldom see them except at Christmas. From the perspective of years you will see how short a time their infancy and childhood was.

The child you have today will not exist in a few years. He or she will be someone else, just as beautiful and just as loved, but quite different. What you have today is unique and irreplaceable. Only by experiencing it moment by moment can this short time be appreciated in its fullness.

This is why grandparents are the way they are. They dote over your children because they recognise what they missed the first time. With the perspective of years, they can see they were not only too busy with the laundry and the housework but, more importantly, in their head with anxiety, guilt and regret. The second time around, they do not want to miss a moment.’