The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy.
One of the jobs we are handed without any advice as GrownUps is becoming a grandparent. Nobody consults us about this new job and it comes to us without our advice or consent.
Grandparents today are very different from grandparents of a generation ago. We are generally younger, healthier, busier, and more likely to still be working when our first grandchild arrives. As a result, our role as grandparent can vary greatly.
- Grandparents, particularly those with young grandchildren, may have living parents and therefore may have to balance caring for their own parents and their grandchild-care responsibilities.
- Nearly two-thirds of women experience the birth of great-grandchildren
Grandparents have been described as:
- Historians – we give a sense of family history for grandchildren.
- Mentors – we provide knowledge and wisdom.
- Role Models – we help to socialise grandchildren.
- Wizards – we use their imaginations to amuse grandchildren.
- Nurturers – we become an important part of grandchildren’s life.
The good thing is that we have a choice as to how we want to be a grandparent.
On becoming a grandparent we are immediately faced with such questions as:
- Just how much involvement do we want?
- How much time can we give?
- How much are we needed?
- How do we imagine our relationship with our grandchild?
- What do we want to pass on to this new generation?
Through the eyes of grandchildren
For most of us being a grandparent is fun. We are free of the anxieties and responsibilities of actual parenting, and we are relaxed enough to ignore the small disasters that accompany small children wherever they go. We learn the world can be a different and wonderful place if we look at it through the eyes of our grandchildren – something we never had a chance to do as parents. They will take us to places we wouldn't go otherwise, show us things we have grown too jaded to notice, slow us down so ‘we can smell the roses’ and make us smile and laugh more than we have in a long time. They will constantly surprise and delight us if we let them. Hopefully, we'll do the same for them.
Another side of grandparenting
At the same time, there can be challenges as a grandparent. If your child is going through a divorce or setting up home with a new partner, it can be particularly difficult for you as a grandparent. You may feel that you are losing touch with your grandchildren.
I also know of some grandparents who have suddenly found themselves being the parent for their grandchildren. At times when their child has become unfit to be the parent – such as experiencing personal trouble that may force the grandchild to be taken into care – one or both grandparents may find that overnight they are parents again, this time to their grandchildren. A surprisingly large number of grandparents fall into this group, They become the primary caregivers in order to keep families together under the Child Young Persons and Families Act. The Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust provides support for people in this situation.
I would like to hear of your own experiences as a grandparent?
What have been the joys as well as the challenges?
You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grandparents are there to help the child get into mischief they haven't thought of yet.
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