Raising children is as tough as it is rewarding. You will always be a mother or a father, who is the primary car provider to your children. But being a grandparent is usually a lot more fun. In fact, it appears to be a great universal joy.

AFTER YOUR OWN children grow up and leave home, life changes in many drastic ways. That reminds me of an old song called Papa by Paul Anka in which he says, “Children live through you. Let them grow! They’ll leave you too.” The family ‘nest’ is no longer full, and the focus shifts away from being full-time parents. For many mothers and fathers, this is the period when ‘empty nest syndrome’ begins, and it can be a challenge adapting to this unfamiliar terrain. But in only a few short years, the adult children may start getting married and having children of their own, refilling the nest with precious little babies. It is time for another transition. Now, you’re stepping forward into a new role --- that of a grandparent.

For many grandparents, a grandchild offers a second chance to become the parents they didn’t have time or energy to be when raising their own children. “Being a grandparent,” many grandparents say, “is an opportunity to turn missed opportunities into delight.”

As the financial and emotional burdens of raising children become increasingly heavy for parents, more grandparents are chipping in by spending time with grandchildren to free up parents to work outside home or take a break. Besides these aspects there is a special unique and meaningful connection between a grandparent and a grandchild. It is a relationship that differs from that of a parent and a child, and has its own special shine. Nothing can compare to this kind of relationship, and every grandparent will surely agree that grandkids have changed his or her life.

Furthermore, it has been found that when grandparents are involved in their adolescent grandchildren’s lives, these children have fewer behavior problems. This is especially true for atrisk children. If you are a grandparent, this is a beautiful time in your life, not only because you’ll have gorgeous grandchildren to love and spoil, but because being a grandparent brings with it numerous other benefits. These are some of the very best things about being a grandparent:

Giving unconditional love but not having binding responsibilities

Both as a parent and as a grandparent, you’re sure to feel insurmountable love for your offspring. But while parenting is a balance between care and guidance, grandparenting is somewhat different. Grandparents have all the luck in this department. They get to enjoy the unconditional love of their grandchildren without having to shoulder the full responsibilities allotted to parents. Of course, you already paid those dues when you raised your own children!

But it’s more than that. As a grandmother or grandfather, you are able to spend your time showering love on your grandkids, instead of focusing on raising them. Grandparents’ house isn’t the place for discipline and chores. It’s not the place where children eat all their vegetables. No, it is where good natured spoiling and cuddling take place.

Spending time with grandchildren energizes you

Children energize those around them. With their boundless enthusiasm and zest for life, you can’t help but be swept into their pleasantly frenzied world. Experts often say that children keep us young, and there’s a great deal of truth to that statement. We may not be able to run and play with them for hours on end, but children can be a positive influence on us. They remind us what it means truly to be children    to be carefree and curious, to explore without hesitation or selfconsciousness. Spending time with your grandkids offers a wonderful reminder of the pleasures of life.

Watching your own children become amazing parents

Being a grandparent is not just about your beautiful grandkids, it’s also about your own children. There’s nothing that can compare to the magic of watching your children turn into loving, caring parents. Witnessing that growth can feel miraculous. For many grandparents, this period brings about a sense of pride. You can feel secure in the knowledge that you did an amazing job raising your kids, as you see them doing the same things you did with their own children.

Telling your grandkids your stories

It’s something of a requirement for grandparents to tell stories. And many of you have fabulous personal stories to share. After all, you are so much older than your grandchildren. You grew up in a vastly different era. Don’t be afraid to tell your grandkids what life was like when you were a child, and where you came from. Chances are, they’ll be fascinated by how the world has changed. They may not even believe you when you tell them that phones used to have cords!

As a grandparent, telling stories can be a great fun. But it’s not everyday that you have a willing audience. Passing down family traditions and tales can be a lovely way to forge an intergenerational bond, and you never know how your wisdom will impact your grandkids.

Giving gifts to your grandchildren

Being more financially stable as a grandparent (if that is indeed the case), you have the luxury of giving your grandchildren the things they want    not just what they need    especially during the birthday parties. You may even be able to help out your grandkids pay for their expensive music lessons, or set up the college savings fund. Grandparents can use their money to spoil the little ones in good ways. This means week long holidays, trips to theme parks, music tickets, new toys….virtually anything. With money to spare, it’s a pleasure to spend it on those you love so much, and especially to spend it on something that will bring them enormous joy. Challenges of grandparenting With all the pleasure and joy of being a grandparent, there are some challenges that come with it. The first and foremost rule is to respect the parents and know that their discipline style may be very different from your own. Don’t criticize them even if you don’t like what they’re doing. The second rule would be to seek approval from the parents (your children) before purchasing gifts or pets for your grandkids.

While grandparents need to respect the decisions of their adult children, parents also need to understand that grandfather and grandmother are going to bend the rules a little anyways simply because they are unable to control the outpouring of love for the grandchildren in their hearts.