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Dates to remember

March 13, 20, 27: Caring for Children: First 5 Years, Mandan

March 15: Morton County Ag Day, Mandan; Morton County Fair board meeting

March 20: Fumigation Training, live stream, Mandan

March 21: Nourish Your Brain, Morton Mandan Public Library

March 26: Private General Pesticide Training, Mandan;  Parents Forever, Mandan

April 6: Wear Blue Day for Child Abuse Prevention Month

Maybe you have heard the saying “If I had known grandchildren were going to be so much fun, I would have had them first!” Transitioning to the role of grandparent is a topic we do not always discuss. Like many life transitions, there are several emotions, opportunities for growth and hopefully lots of happiness. Similar to parents, not all grandparents are the same. Not all people enter grandparenthood in the same manner or timeframe. However you enter the role, becoming a grandparent holds opportunities for mentoring, fostering new connections and passing on values and family identity.

The role grandparents play in family life can vary based on several factors. NDSU Extension has a publication called The Art of Grandparenting (find it at In it, research referenced describes many styles of grandparenting. These include:

• Formal grandparent, who follows prescribed ideas and acts as the family elder.

• Fun-seeker grandparent, who is informal, playful and fun for a grandchild.

• Reserved grandparent, who remains in the background and engages family usually around holidays or other ritual occasions (weddings, etc.).

• Surrogate parent, who assumes the care-giving responsibilities in raising a grandchild,

• Wise grandparent, who provides training in special skills, furnishes resources or dispenses wisdom and counsel.

A grandparent does not need to practice a particular style. The styles may change over time or with evolving relationships. The roles may change as families and children develop different personality traits, experiences and developmental steps. At some point, most grandparents ask themselves something like, what kind of relationship and legacy do I wish to build in my role as grandparent? Reflecting on your own experiences and ideas can be helpful in preparing to be a grandparent or in your current role. Some things to consider:

• Were you close to a grandparent or grandparental figure?

• Were (or are) your own parents close to your children?

• How did you feel (or how might you feel) when your first grandchild was born?

• Can you see yourself as the emotional leader of your family?

• What are some things that you uniquely can teach or offer to a grandchild?

• What are some of the things you would like to pass on to a grandchild?

Grandchildren experience many benefits from the positive contributions of grandparents. Grandparents can impart a sense of identity; provide unconditional love; represent hope for the future; be a source of stability and security; act as a mentor and teacher; exemplify positive values, ideals and beliefs; nurture and give support; assist with emotional, mental and spiritual well-being; be a role model and play companion.

Remember, the time and roles you play are benefiting your entire family, including your grandchild. You have most likely raised children and know how tiring it can be. Parents and caregivers appreciate support in all forms from grandparents. Therefore, whether you are looking forward to becoming a grandparent or you have already stepped into this role enjoy that next step. Becoming a grandparent is like the dessert at the end of a good meal.

Liz Larson is the parent educator for the NDSU Extension Parent Resource Center Region VII. Larson has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Luther College in Iowa and started with Extension in 2016.