Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Grandma, new parent educator helps other grandparents prepare for grandbabies

Posted October 19, 2014 8:45 p.m. EDT

Debbie McClamroch works with expecting and new parents at WakeMed in Raleigh.

The loves of Debbie McClamroch's life are her husband of more than 43 years, her four children (including a son-in-law and daughter-in-law) and four grandchildren.

Her passion has been educating and coaching new moms and their partners as they embark on their own adventure that is family life.

"We are an extremely caring and loving family who, like every family, has made mistakes," McClamroch, an education specialist in birth and parent education at WakeMed, tells me. "But [we] learned and continue to learn from those mistakes and count it a privilege to pass on what we learn to others."

For eight years, McClamroch has worked as an education specialist in WakeMed's birth and parent education department. Her job is to create new classes and teach the different classes already offered to expectant and new parents.

McClamroch, who also is a certified childbirth educator, basic life support instructor, car seat safety passenger tech and life coach and counselor, is behind the new Grandbabies Class, which started this month at WakeMed.

"I took some months speaking to new parents, expectant parents that were taking some of our classes about how their parents were a help to them after the baby was born and also ways they hindered them by their unwanted and unsolicited advise," she tells me. "They were full of comments and asked if we could teach them how to help and not hinder them in the first few weeks on being new parents."

McClamroch scanned the web to look for other grandparents classes and came across, which she used to help develop the class.  

"My desire whenever I have the opportunity to create a class or teach one is to educate and empowering expectant moms, their partners and families in childbirth education toward a more positive birth experience as well as to prepare them for when they go home with their newborn," she tells me.

I checked in with McClamroch to learn more about the new Grandbabies Class. The class is open to any new grandparents in the region. Their grandchildren do not need to be born at WakeMed. Be sure to check WakeMed's website for more information about the class and to sign up.

Here's my Q&A with McClamroch.

Go Ask Mom: What will be learned and why it is useful?

Debbie McClamroch: The purpose of this class is to teach grandparents to be or new grandparents pitfalls to avoid, ways to be helpful in the first few weeks for the new parents, safety around the home, and games to play, fun communication tools and activities with grandbabies from infancy through adulthood. An added bonus will be each student will learn how to successfully perform Infant/child CPR and choking techniques.

GAM: What's the goal for the class?

DM: The goal of the Grandbabies class is to educate and empower new grandparents in their new role as a grandparent and not to try to come in with their own way of doing things. Another goal for this class is to enhance and grow deeper understanding of how things have changed since we were raising our children. We would also like to help grow a deeper unity, love and support amongst family members.

GAM: How has being a grandparent changed your own way of thinking about grandparent-hood and how you relate to your own children?

DM: This is a great question. In all honesty, I find myself praying more for our grandchildren and for my children as they try to lead them in our world today. There are times that I find myself not necessarily agreeing with how I see our children raising our grandchildren; but then I quickly remind myself that I am not the parent. I also desire to leave a loving, honest, respectful, fun and Godly legacy for our grandchildren, teaching them by the way my husband and I live every day.

GAM: Should new grandparents and expecting parents sit down and talk about roles before the birth?

DM: I do believe it is important for parents and grandparents to sit down and talk about roles before the birth. The Grandbabies class is a great way to get this conversation started. We begin each Grandbabies class with each grandparent writing down what they see as their role as the grandparent and how they can help their children adjust to their new roles as parents. You would be surprised at some of the answers.

GAM: Are there common pitfalls for grandparents and parents?

DM: After we discuss how the grandparents see themselves in the role of grandparent; I then go over a power point I got from on the Top 10 conflicts between parents and grandparent. This is an eye opener for some of the grandparents in class.

GAM: What is the greatest joy of being a grandparent?

DM: My greatest joy of being a grandparent is I get to love our grandchildren, speak truth into their lives, when I am asked to, and reveal the person I see in them that is sometimes beyond whom they see in themselves at different times of their lives. I have given each of our grandchildren a special name that means how much I love them, believe in them and want for them to succeed in life.

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