By Vanessa Rasmussen, © 2004, All rights reserved.

There are about 70 million grandparents in the US today, and each month 75,000 Americans 45-69 years old join the club. Most grandparents begin their grandparenting role during their middle age. The average age of becoming a grandparent is between 49 and 53 years; however, because of the increased teen pregnancy rate, more and more parents are becoming grandparents in their thirties.

As a grandparent, you have the opportunity to create a special bond with your grandchild, one that will help him/her grow into a loving and responsible adult. Your relationship will benefit your grandchild, but also provide you with an important link to your family and the younger generation. You not only provide extended family support, encouragement, and/or companionship but are also involved in your children's and grandchildren's lives and their many achievements. Often, most grandparents are better as grandparents than perhaps they were as a parent, due to years of experience and even comparatively better time, money and resources.

Some tips on being a great grandparent:

Sometimes circumstances beyond your control make it difficult for you to spend time with your grandchildren. If you live far away from your grandchildren or if your son or daughter is divorced from their spouse, you may have a limited ability to interact with your grandchildren. If time and distance are issues, you can still connect with your grandchildren by telephone, letter and email. During family changes and crises, your grandchildren may need you more than ever. If you can’t connect with them in person, just letting them know that you are there and that you care can be incredibly important and worthwhile. Sometimes alternate means of communication can enable more openness and a greater sense of connection.

How well the parent and grandparent interact has a great influence on whether the relationship with the grandchildren is close or distant. Remember, greater closeness and contact between parents and grandparents equals more closeness and contact between grandchildren and grandparents.

Copyright 2001, 2004. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article in whole or in part without written or verbal permission is strictly prohibited. For information about reprinting this article, contact the copyright owner: Vanessa Rasmussen, Ph.D, Starting a Day Care Center,