Should Grandparents-to-Be Take a Grandparenting Class?

Find Out What Has Changed in Childbirth and Child Care

grandparenting class
Grandparenting class can make new grandparents more comfortable with infant care tasks. Photo © Andersen Ross | Photodisc | Getty Images

Perhaps you've heard that some grandparents take a grandparenting class. You're likely to feel that your experience as a parent means that you don't need to prepare for your grandparenting role, but things have changed in the last few decades. Still, you may be wondering: Have things changed so much that grandparents-to-be should go to grandparenting school?

Why Not?

Instead of asking why take a grandparenting class, ask yourself why not?

Classes are often offered by hospitals or health systems as a part of their goal of educating the whole family. Siblings are often invited for Big Sister or Big Brother tours or events. Husbands and partners usually join expectant mothers in childbirth class. Why shouldn't grandparents get in on the fun and learning?  

If you live near the facility where your grandchild will be delivered, check with the hospital. If you are a long-distance grandparent, you can combine the class with a family visit, or look for classes in your own area.  

Grandparenting classes are usually inexpensive, ranging from free to around $60, and they typically last only a couple of hours. You'll be certain to pick up some new information, and you'll send the parents-to-be the message that you are serious about being a good grandparent.

What Will You Learn?

Here's an overview of what a grandparenting class is likely to cover:

  • What has changed in prenatal care and delivery
  • What has changed in child care
  • What grandparents need to know to keep their grandchildren safe
  • How to support the parents and accept their decisions.

Some classes include an option to take child CPR, and some include instruction in infant massage. Some will provide information about new developments in baby gear.

To me, that part is crucial. Maybe you're a younger grandparent than I am, but we didn't have baby monitors, jogging strollers or baby wipe warmers when I was a mom. In fact, we didn't even have baby wipes! 

If you are going to be in the delivery room, you'll be prepared for some of the things you'll notice that may be done differently. For example, you may observe the new mother removing or pulling down her gown to facilitate skin-to-skin contact with the baby. You may learn that baby's first bath may be put off for a while. You might find out that the baby will be rooming with mom rather than being taken to the nursery.

If you'd like more information, see this more detailed description of what you could learn in grandparenting class

Get the Most Out of Your Class

You'll profit the most from taking a grandparenting class if you have an open mind and a list of questions. But the open mind is the most important. If you are able to accept that many aspects of childbirth and infant child care have changed, you'll be setting the tone for a successful stint as a grandparent.

Knowing when to speak up and when to keep quiet is such an important part of being a new grandparent that you may be instructed in the topic during your grandparenting class. In one class attended by a friend of mine, the instructor hit the topic so hard that she has forever referred to the class as MYOB class. In the best classes, however, you will learn much more than how to Mind Your Own Business.

If you are a grandparent-to-be and you have a grandparenting class available to you, I urge you to sign up. The worst-case scenario? You'll be out a few hours and a few dollars. The best-case scenario? You'll learn a lot about how to care for your grandchildren and keep them safe. 

Want to get a head start on updating your knowledge? Look at six ways that childbearing has changed.