Class helps grandparents get up to speed on changes in child care
Here’s a short quiz for all of you new or “soon-to-be” grandmas and grandpas. 1. Always put baby to sleep on his or her… a. back b. stomach 2. Children should be kept in rear-facing car seats until… a. age 1, b. age 2 3. Third-hand smoke, which clings to hair, clothing, carpets, etc., is dangerous to children. a. true, b. false (Answers below) St. Cloud Hospital’s Women and Children’s Center recently offered three sessions of the class Grandparenting: What has Changed? Seventeen people attended the August class held at CentraCare Health Plaza in St. Cloud and each one of them learned the answers to the above quiz. Jen Gieser, R.N., was the class instructor and she presented a range of information from the newest types of diapers to car seat safety. There have been a lot of changes in the area of childcare over the years and some grandparents find these changes quite challenging. Gieser told humorous stories of her own mother trying to diaper her grandchild and putting the diaper on backward. Her mother rolled her eyes when Gieser told her that her 2-month old would not get solid food until he was 4-6 months old. “Give him a little cereal,” she insisted. “He’s probably starving!” Gieser sympathized with class members who told stories of exasperation when trying to buckle a grandchild into a car seat. All of that lifting, adjusting, tugging and buckling properly can wear one out. She surprised at least a few of the class participants when she said car seats expire 6 years after they are made and at that point, they need to be thrown out and replaced. (Car seats are made of plastic which breaks down when exposed to the extreme heat and cold when placed in your vehicle). The car seat–buckling dilema was common among the grandmas and grandpas in the class. One grandmother of a young child had lamented to her daughter, “I don’t know how you can buckle her in there. It’s so tight.” A couple of women chimed in with comments about the lack of child restraint in the cars decades ago. “When I was growing up,” said one, “ there wasn’t room for me in the back seat so I had to lie across the laps of my brothers and sisters.” Another remembered, “When we traveled long distances, we sometimes sat on the floor of the back seat for a change, and if I got tired I would crawl into the back window and take a nap.” Those who attended the session had opportunities to ask questions, practice buckling different types of car seats and chuckle over a handout which made references to their own childhood—one where there were no childproof lids on medicine bottles, and there were no video games, Nintendo’s, computers or cartoon channels and children played outdoors from morning until night. You may wonder if the grandmas and grandpas of 30, 40, 50 or 60 years ago went to a class to learn about the latest changes in caring for children and infants. Most likely, not. Sharon Dunham, RN, BSN, CPST, an education specialist at St. Cloud Hospital, believes that the interest in the grandparenting class is because there has been so much change since grandparents parented their own children. She said that we have much more information now about the developmental process of children. Grandparenting: What Has Changed? has been well-received, according to Dunham, and it will be offered every month. Jerry Lenoie of St. Cloud, grandmother to twin granddaughters and a retired home economics teacher, did not attend the class but agreed that raising kids has changed. “Things have changed so much, it is unsettling. I used to teach this,” she said. “ But the technology and equipment and medical recommendations are so different from when we had our own kids– the diapers, cribs, strollers, bottles, the formula. And, in the car,” she added, “ we held our babies in our laps!” Lenoie said that when her daughter, Jennifer, has questions, she gets on the Internet and instantly has five opinions on what to do. She gets recipes for food that she can make for her one-year old daughters and has gotten advice on how to prevent spitting up and many other topics. Communication between grandparents and grandchildren is an area which has seen big change. The written letter and the occasional, brief telephone call of yesterday have been replaced with texting, e-mail and Skype, allowing grandparents to become more involved in their grandchildren’s lives. By using Skype, they can see baby’s first steps and hear about the first day of school, almost as if they were together in the same room. The image of a grandparent has changed, too. In the past, grandparents were often thought of as being old and out of touch and physically frail. They may have lived far away and some did not drive so were dependent on others to get around. Although they loved their grandchildren, they may have been of the mind that children are to be seen and not heard. Results of a 2009 study done by researcher Peter Francese for Grandparents.com show that today’s grandparent is younger than ever before. According to The Grandparent Economy, the average age of a first time grandmother is 50; and for a first time grandfather, the average age is 54. Today’s grandparents live longer and are more active and they won’t let age slow them down. They want to be involved in the lives of their grandchildren. There may be differences between the generations, and grandparents may not always recognize the toys or understand the latest technological gadget that their grandchild has. But there is no need to despair. Children, being children, still love the simple pleasures, such as reading a book together, roasting marshmallows over a fire, flying a kite, seeing a parade, making cookies, and, on a beautiful fall day, going to the pumpkin patch. If you would like to learn more about registering for the free class Grandparenting: What Has Changed?, call 320-229-5139 or go to www.centracare.com. Answers to quiz: Always put baby to sleep on his or her back. Children should be kept in rear-facing car seats until age 2. True. Third-hand smoke is dangerous to children.