Becoming a grandparent means entering a new phase in your family’s life, new relationships and new responsibilities. Just as you helped to shape your own child’s future, grandparents can add so much to the relationships they have with their grandchildren. There are new opportunities to share your own life’s story as well as see the world in a new way through the eyes of a child. This is the first of a series of columns on ‘Sixty second parent.’ I hope to provide the insights of a pediatrician, father and new grandparent as well as respond to your questions and thoughts.

Most become grandparents the usual way by supporting your own children as they become parents of their own right; others through adoption. We became grandparents when our daughter married the father of four children, an instantaneous multiplication of our family. Our major challenge has been to become familiar with them not only in our new role, but from afar, over 700 miles away. That in itself has its own challenges that we will address sometime later.

As a pediatrician, one of the things that has changed dramatically over the years that I have practiced is our understanding of the child’s mind. Improved knowledge of the neurosciences and our understanding of child development have changed the way we approach the early childhood period, changing early child care as well as education. We understand the importance of the social and emotional needs of infants and young children are to the future well being of a child and even the adult years.

In the first year of life babies begin their rapid course of growth and change. A baby’s earliest interactions with parents and other caretakers determine the strength and adaptability of the developmental foundations that are forming. During this period when babies are changing from a totally dependent state to a toddler who can calm herself and regulate her own behavior they need a secure relationship with those around them. The crying child needs the reassurance that someone is there to comfort them. Attachment is that secure connection with caretakers that forms that link to a baby’s emerging sense of self.

We will be exploring that in coming months so stay tuned!

By Mark Rosenburg M.D. FAAP