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Top 10 Tips for Grandparents of Twins or Multiples

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Being a grandparent to twins, triplets or more brings special blessings. Not only are there more grandchildren to love, but you can play a very special role in their lives. These tips will help you foster a special relationship with your multiple grandchildren, as well as be supportive to their parents. (Many thanks to my twins' grandmother -- my mother, Jacki Prindle -- for her assistance with this article.)

1. Helping Hands

Grandparents can be an invaluable source of assistance to parents of multiples. Be an extra set of hands to help care for infant multiples, but also consider providing support by picking up the slack while parents are focused on their babies: make meals, run errands, do laundry, or babysit older siblings.

2. Be a Generous Gifter

If you have the ability and the inclination, shower your multiple grandchildren with gifts. Communication with the parents will ensure that your gifts are welcome and useful; don't create clutter by going overboard with goodies. If you are purchasing clothing for the multiples, consult the parents a to their wishes regarding matching or coordinating outfits, and comply with their preferences.

3. Go One-on-One

Make an effort to get to know each child invididually. Utilize your special role as grandparent to develop and encourage their unique personalities. Foster their interest in different activities or hobbies. Create opportunities to spend one-on-one time with each child on their own.

4. Teach Them History

Teach your grandchildren about history. Their parents may not have the perspective -- or the time -- that you can bestow. Tell them what you remember about your childhood and point out how things have changed in your lifetime. Find out if other twins or multiples are part of your family tree. Your grandchildren will enjoy sharing in this proud heritage.

5. Learn to Tell Them Apart

It may seem like basic common sense, but knowing who's who is a crucial task for grandparents. If you don't live nearby and can't see each other often, it can be more of a challenge to distinguish between multiples, especially if they are monozygotic with similar appearances. Make a concerted effort to identify them as individuals. If you get mixed up, apologize -- they're probably used to it! -- and then try to do better next time.

6. Create Special Rituals

Share activities and special treats with your grandchildren, especially things that their parents don't have the time or inclination to do. Find something special that you do only with them: Eat Krispy Kreme donuts for dinner, take them to the ball game, or for a manicure. Creating special times will forge a bond, and make memories!

7. Learn From Them

As much as you can teach your grandchildren, you can also learn from them. Try to learn something new each time that you're together. Children change so quickly as they grow up; what once was "hot" last month may be only lukewarm the next. Keep up with their interests and abilities. (And be aware that they may not share the same preferences -- or that they might flip flop. Where one multiple loves sports, the other may prefer movies and music. At least until the next time you ask!)

8. Think Like a Kid

You've waited for this your whole life! Grandchildren can keep you young, and with multiples, you've got even more opportunities to be a kid again! Be crazy, have fun and make messes.

9. Make Your Home Multiple-Friendly

Make your home a haven, and your grandchildren will be clamoring to visit. Childproofing will make it a safe place; designate off-limit areas if you are worried about damages. Outfit a space with age-appropriate toys, books and equipment; you can often find inexpensive items at yard sales or consignment stores. And make sure you have enough to go around; if you have twin grandchildren, buy double, or triple for triplets.

10. Support the Parents

Play babysitter as often as you can to give parents time to themselves. Helping them reconnect with each other will only benefit your grandchildren. Finally, recognize that raising multiples is not the same as having siblings of different ages; respect your child's choices as a parent. You may not always agree with their parenting philosophy, discipline techniques, or methods of child care, but trust them to know what's best and offer advice judiciously.

What about you?

I'd like to hear about your family's special traditions with grandparents. Are you a grandparent of twins or multiples? What advice would you offer to others in your situation? Are you a parent of twins or multiples? Please share with me how your children's grandparents are special. What role do they play in their lives?
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