Picking a name for your new baby is not easy; do you canvass grandparents and friends with your ideas? Do you keep it simple, short and easy for the baby to say when they are older or do you go for something elaborate? Do you go for conventional or really way-out names? It seems that a surprisingly large number of parents - over half! - actually regret the name they originally giver their baby.
Some say it doesn’t reflect the baby’s true personality or that they felt pressured to give a name so didn’t take enough time. Some say that they didn’t like the name in the first place and just over 25% say the name became too popular so went off it when they heard lots of other babies being called the same thing.
Research has been done by Northwestern University in Illinois to look into the impact that names have on babies and children. That there is an impact, he says, is testament to the number of baby name books that are on the market... parents clearly feel its a big and serious job. to name their child appropriately.
In 2011 approximately 58,000 people changed their own name according to the UK Deed Poll Service. This is some 4,000 more than the previous year. However, ten years ago this number was nearer 5,000 people changing their name each year!
It has been said that Grandparents are taking the lead when it comes to teaching our children traditional values and standards of behaviour. Over half of those questioned said they learned good manners and values from their grandparents. Many considered their grandparents to be like second parents, and said that they considered the parents to be confidants.
As the structure and dynamics of families change, it seems that grandparents are now playing an even greater role in children's lives. Grandparents provide more and more childcare, support in financial or emotional ways and seem tp play an increasing role in the family life.
However, the role of grandparent changes as the children grow. They may be carer in the beginning, baby sitter as they are older and friend and teacher as they grow up. Here are a few ideas of the roles a grandparent can play.
Respected ancestor: grandparents are our link with the past. They are the head of the family and living proof of the family's history. They can talk about 'the old days', share stories of how life used to be and create a whole new world for little ones who love to listen to their grandparents (often embellished!) tales.
Friend: children feel happy to discuss things with grandparents who often appear more relaxed and permissive than parents. Children seem more likely to discuss things freely with grandparents and even talk about injustices that they feel with their parents.
Hero: being older, wiser and having lived for so many years, children can see grandparents as their heroes, full of stories and experiences of days gone by.
Teacher of practical skills: they can teach how to polish shoes, how to skip, how to knit, how to do the washing-up. Grandparents have so many skills and the time to teach them! They therefore become a role model for children. They can can be a mentor and guide children in a spiritual way.
Constant, reliable focus: in a world where divorce and separation is becoming more and more common, children look to grandparents as a constant in their life. They provide a nurturing and reliable place to go and feel wanted and cared for in an unconditional way.
Teachers of social skills: teaching children how to behave in public, how to look after themselves and how to communicate with adults.
Playmate: the magic that a grandparent can bring to a little child's life is priceless! The simplest of tasks become an adventure with a bit of inspiration and the fresh take on a situation that a grandparent can have. Children adore the excitement that grandparents can create and the games they have together.
In short, the role of grandparent has many layers, and indeed changes over time. Being a grandparent is what you make it and with a bit of time and thought it can be such a positive inspiration and a vital part of a child's life.
You don't need fancy toys or equipment in order to be a good grandparent, though. You don't need lots of brilliant ideas and complicated activities lined up for a visit. You just need some time, a little creative thinking and be willing to listen to what your grandchildren ask you for. The most important thing a grandparent can offer is a friendly ear and someone to listen!
For some, grandparents are a vital form of childcare, but do they provide the right kind of environment for our babies and toddlers, and,should they be paid?
There are many advantages to using grandparents:
- They love your child as much as you do so want to do a good job
- Your baby or child will get to know the grandparent even better and develop a strong bond because they will be spending time alone with them... something both the grandparent and child will cherish
- A grandparent has already had children so knows from experience
- They may live close by so its will be an easy drop off
- They may be more flexible about hours and whether to have the child if a bit poorly
- The child will settle more quickly because they know the carer
- They may be more easygoing if you are delayed or be prepared to drop off/collect from nursery/school
- They may be happy to have your child's friends round to play
- It may be cheap or even free childcare!
However, there are some disadvantages too:-
- The grandparent did their child care many years ago so may do things differently to you or may have forgotten a lot!
- They may be too old and find it physically too demanding but may not admit it
- They may have appointments or commitments already
- Their attitudes may need updating about what's allowed in terms of potty training and naps
- You may need to transport equipment and toys each time or buy two sets: high chairs, travel cot and buggy etc.
- Their home may be unsafe and have lots of potential dangers., and will not be OFSTED registered and checked
- They may not take the child out as much as a professional organisation and therefore your child may not meet children and socialise
You may wish to formalise an agreement for the care provided to your child and make clear details such as time off and holidays etc. You may even agree to pay a fee for the care. There are organisations dedicated to advising on this area such as The Grandparents' Association or Grandparents Plus.
Are grandparents being overlooked in what is perhaps a vital form of childcare fore babies, toddlers and young children? Responding to a report published by Grandparents Plus calling for direct payments for Grandparents providing childcare for their grandchildren, Daycare Trust joint Chief Executive Alison Garnham said: "Grandparents should be recognised for the role they play providing invaluable childcare, but introducing direct payments would require a process involving registration, auditing and inspection, and I don't think anyone wants to see Government inspectors in their living room scrutinising their family life. "If there is money available for childcare then it should be spent on meeting the Government's pledge to increase the free childcare entitlement to 15 hours per week for 3 and 4 year olds and extend the entitlement to all 2 year olds".
If you think its right for you you should consider:
- Is the grandparents fit enough and in good health to run around after children?
- Do they have first-aid knowledge or qualification
- Is the house safe?
- Does it fit in with existing commitments?
If the answer is yes, to all these questions, lucky you!