What do you wish you’d known when you first became a grandparent?

Recently, I asked grandparents around the country what they wish they’d known—but didn’t—when their first grandchild was born. Here are some of my favorite responses.

Marissa Nicar • Galveston, Texas

Wish I had started a journal much earlier of what my grandbabies say.

Susan Rink Olsen • North Ridgeville, Ohio

Susan Olsen with her daughter and grandkids in 2016. Photo courtesy of Susan Olsen.

I wish someone had told me how deeply and completely they will steal your heart. I have two preschool grandkids, and I cannot express in words how much I love them and how much I would sacrifice for them. It really is on a whole new level compared to parenthood.

Marilyn Gordon • Bellingham, Washington

Do not offer advice unless asked. We didn’t like it when our parents criticized, so, unless the grandkids are in danger, let the parents have the joy of learning how to parent. We are here to love and spoil our grandkids as much as our kids will allow.

Alicia Quezada Duncan • Detroit, Michigan

Get your back and biceps in shape! Look up the actual words to all the cute songs you’ll want to share. Nothing can prepare you for the love that’s gonna happen; keep Kleenex in you pocket.

Elaine Rosa • Cornwall, Pennsylvania

Start reading stories right away. All babies love to be read to, and it is a wonderful way to bond. It might just look like a story is being read, but it’s so much more: the closeness, the head resting on your shoulder, the quiet time before bed, and the security of the same voice there to comfort and reassure after a hard day at life.

Name and location withheld

Loosen the strings on your pocketbook. The younger generation have less secure jobs, probably no holiday or sick pay, and lower pay than we had (and we thought we had it bad). If you can, take over an expense. I buy all the clothes for my three grandchildren … some of my friends who are grandparents help with rent, pay medical expenses, or pay for extracurricular activities. I would say at least 75 percent of my grandma friends support their children and grandchildren financially in some way. It’s tough out there.

Karen Shiebler • Winchendon, Massachusetts

Let the house get messy. Let them paint. Let them help you bake. Who cares if there is flour on the floor and eggshells in the batter? Put away the mop and the vac. Enjoy these messy adventures!

Sharon Brodsky Richman • Lake Worth, Florida

Get on the computer now, if you are not already. With FaceTime, WhatsApp, and other technology, you can be an active part of their lives, whether you are near or far.

Fred Tilley • Marshfield, Massachusetts

I would caution grandparents on both sides not to be in competition with each other and bury the child in gifts.

Stacy Lewis Jarrell • Bradenton, Florida

Give your grandkids unconditional love. But establish boundaries early. Let them know that the behavior expected in your house may be different from what’s expected at Mommy and Daddy’s house. And when they come to Grandma because Mom or Dad won’t let them do something, I let them explain, but I back Mom and Dad unless it’s something harmful to the child.