Having a new baby is a great source of joy for a family, but it can bring real pressures too. It is hard to cope with those sleepless nights and there are added financial pressures. It is a key time when new parents, particularly mothers, turn to grandparents for support. You may find that if you are a grandparent whose daughter has a baby it is easier for you to get involved than if you have a son who becomes a dad. Try to remember that as a new parent your son or daughter will be seeking your approval, in the same way they have throughout their lives. It is important to bear that in mind. Your support really does matter to them.

Here are some common concerns faced by new grandparents, and suggestions on how to tackle them.

I want to help out, but I don’t want them to think I’m interfering. What should I do? 

Getting the balance right between being helpful and interfering is tricky. New parents, particularly new mums, can be tired and emotional. They’ve been through the biggest change of their lives and feel the weight of that responsibility and love for a new baby. They want to do all they can to care for their child and may find it hard to ask for help. Just gently being there may be enough, either on the phone or, if visits are OK, in person from time to time so that you are on hand to help out while they have a rest. Helping with older children, doing the shopping or cooking a meal are useful contributions too.

I can’t wait to see the baby but they don’t want me to visit yet. Why not?

It’s good to be open about visits if you can, even before the baby is born. Ask them whether it’s okay for you to come round, offering a helping hand. Be prepared for the answer ‘not today thanks’ and try not to take offence. Their relationship with you shouldn’t be an added pressure for them to worry about at this time, rather something that can help and support them. Focus on enjoying the baby when you do visit, offer practical help and try to see it from their perspective.

His big brother is jealous. I can see they’re not giving him much attention.

This is often a perfect role for grandparents – keeping older children happy and making them feel special while mum or dad is preoccupied with the new baby. It’s important that you don’t forget you have more than one grandchild as they will feel jealous of sharing you with the baby in the same way as they resent sharing their mum or dad. This is definitely a time when treats are allowed!

I feel my daughter-in-law has no respect for me and isn’t interested in my point of view. She wants to do things her own way.

Conflict often arises when people fail to understand the other person’s perspective, and it's important to remember that there is more than one way to bring up a child successfully. Parenting wisdom also changes over the years and varies a lot depending on which expert you consult, let alone from one mum/grandmother to the next. Try not to judge but offer supportive advice if asked that doesn’t slip into disapproval. In most cases the baby’s mum (and dad) will know the baby better than you do so which parenting methods they adopt has to be a decision for them.