Tips for New Boomer Grandparents

Respecting parents' wishes and privacy are good ways to get off on the right foot.

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The Boomerater (tm) Report, our weekly collaboration with online baby boomer resource Boomerater, looks at valuable tips on being a new boomer grandparent and some great ideas to get prepared for this new role.

Q. We're about to become first-time grandparents and would like to hear tips from others to make this is the best experience for our new grandchild and our son and daughter-in-law. We have a good relationship with the kids and live close by. I want to be supportive and helpful, but don't want to overstep boundaries in my role as mother-in-law.

A. Today's economy is a wake-up call for parents about how difficult it can be to afford to send their children to college. Start a college fund for your grandchild and contribute to it every year. Your gift will help ensure your grandchildren will be able to realize their dreams. For a comparison of 529 funds, go to Morningstar. They rate them on a number of factors.

A. Have they chosen names yet? They may want to check Baby Name Wizard. It is a great resource for meanings, popularity trends, etc. But whatever their choice, even if it's a name that holds unpleasant memories for you, remember that it is their decision, not yours. Supporting their choice (even if you have to be a fantastic actor) is a great way to start off on the right foot as grandparents.

A. The fact that you are concerned about overstepping shows you are sensitive to the possibility. Don't make the mistake my daughter's in-laws made. They were way too involved, dropping in all of the time, telling them how to do every little thing. In a time that should have been joyous for all, they ended up alienating the kids through their controlling, nitpicking behavior. Remember what it was to be a new mother, and support their decisions and privacy.

A. On the day the baby is born, buy a New York Times and take the baby's picture with the front page. Do this each year and you will have a historic chronicle that shows how the child has grown year to year. Use the pictures to make a scrapbook for a perfect high school graduation present the child will treasure forever.

A. As they get accustomed to becoming new parents, respect their need for lots of alone time. Ask how you can help, and follow their wishes. Doing errands for them (shopping etc.) is a great way to give them more time to enjoy the baby. You'll have plenty of time to babysit later.

Boomerater is an online resource for baby boomers that covers everything from top vacation and getaway trips to helping you find a financial advisor. The site also contains forums where boomers can post questions and swap first-hand experiences. If there are questions on your mind that you would like answered by other people who have faced similar situations, or you have advice of your own to share, go to Boomerater.com and participate in the forums. Say that The Best Life sent you.