What is a grandparent?

As we start a new year, I thought I would ask this simple question. What is a grandparent?

The question may be simple, but the role of a grandparent is a lot more complex.

My grandparents were caregivers in a time when that wasn’t the norm. My mother became a single parent when I was five, and so school holidays, vacations, and summer months were a transition time for me.

I went from playing in the city streets to walking barefoot down dirt roads and through the pastures of my grandparents’ farm. It didn’t seem unusual to me – it was my life.

After I had my daughter, my Mother came to visit twice a year on her vacations. In between she’d send cards, call on the phone, send small gifts, or presents on special days. When she retired, she moved near us and helped provide care for a variety of occasions which helped strengthen their relationship.

My daughter’s paternal grandparents had twenty-three grandchildren and loved each one as an individual. They maintained a wall of photos where they made sure each child, spouse and grandchild was represented. I never heard either one of them say anything negative about a family member as they truly believed in only saying something if it was positive. What great role models there were to all of us.

My daughter has wonderful memories of her grandparents.

Today some grandparents have full responsibility for raising their grandchildren and have to assume the role of parent including establishing rules and guidelines that need to be adhered to in order for there to be orderliness to daily life. Others contribute in various ways like before or after school care, sick care, playing chauffeur for activities, having sleepovers or going on adventures.

Long-distance grandparents have to work harder to maintain their relationship, but I know many that do it very successfully while not breaking the bank. It requires more planning and effort, but with the help of technology and some creative ideas, it certainly can be accomplished.

When you are not the full-time caregiver, the role of the grandparent is an easier one requiring love and time. I appreciate being one of the lucky ones because I get to see my grandchildren regularly and can focus on planning adventures. My daughter sometimes refers to me as their “social director.”


There are many fine support groups and sites available to grandparents. One that I check in with regularly is Grandparents.About.com.  The moderator, Susan Adcox, brings every day and special day issues and solutions to the site for grandparents. If you aren’t familiar with it, I’d highly recommend checking it out.

Also available on Grandparents.About.com is a list of wonderful grandparent bloggers. These bloggers provide every kind of information imaginable that a grandparent would need or could use. Definitely check it out.

If you are a Facebook fan, About Grandparenting can also be found there.

The amount of time you have to spend with grandchildren is time stamped. It is limited not only by their interests but by your aging. Their life will be enriched by knowing you and learning family history from you.

Kids on bench

Remember – Grandchildren were our prize for working so hard for so many years as parents.

What do my grandchildren think about the role grandparents should play?

Grandson (7): Grandparents should be nice, shouldn’t say ‘no’ to all questions, and they should let kids have lots of candy.

Granddaughter (11): Grandparents should be caring, kind, helpful and easy to convince.

Together they said that kids should like hanging out with grandparents more than with their parents or their parents would be doing something wrong. 

Grandchildren – they are wise beyond their years, and they are so much fun to love.

Linked to Family Home and Life Grandparents Say It Saturday

About Judy@NewEnglandGardenAndThread

Master Gardener who enjoys gardening, quilting, photography, and traveling.
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13 Responses to What is a grandparent?

  1. Grandma Kc says:

    Like you I am so thankful that my role is only that of Grandma and not that of full time caregiver. i’m glad because it means that she has 2 wonderful parents who love her and glad that we can just wallow in the good stuff!

    Think I’ll have to ask Amara this question and see what she says?!


    • Judy says:

      Yes, my granchildren also have two very qualified parents, and that is why I get to have all the fun. Please ask Amara and let us know what she says.

      On Tue, 15 Jan 2013 17:35:21 +0000, grandparentsplus2


  2. My grandson is fixing to be 2 next month & I try to spend as much time with him as I can & spoil him. I so enjoy it. If it was not for insurance, I would consider retiring & keeping him more.


    • Judy says:

      It is so easy to love them and so much fun to spend time with them. I certainly understand about the insurance because it is a real issue that has to be considered. 

      On Tue, 15 Jan 2013 18:17:48 +0000, grandparentsplus2


  3. Read your blog with great interest. Your simple question is really not simple at all. For the past 2 years I have been the program assistant for the GRandS Program (Grandfamily Resilience & Sustainability Program) in Palm Beach County, Florida. We have 6 grandparent groups that meet around the county once or twice a month. We provide FREE educational workshops, support groups, and find resources for these GRGs (Grandparents Raising Grandchildren). We too, have a blog website hosted by wordpress.com. If you would like to visit it, read about the program, and our GRGs stories, it is http://www.grandsprogram.com.

    Thank you for your thoughtful blog. I will continue to follow you.

    Lisa A. Cunningham


  4. Debra says:

    This was a wonderful article that left me laughing at the end. “Lots of candy” Love it! 🙂


    • One thing about seven-year old boys – they are honest. The other day a checker at the store asked him if he was stocking up on candy, and he looked at her and said “I’m a stress eater.” We both burst out laughing.


  5. Grandma Kc says:

    I keep forgetting to ask Amara this question, thanks for the reminder!


  6. Mrs. Tucker says:

    Easy to convince…I’m gonna remember that!


  7. Terry says:

    Long distance grandparenting is a challenge but I sure do love skype! Just chatted with my sweet Charlotte today! Wish such things had been around for my mom and daughters when they were young and we lived all over the world as a military family.


    • Wouldn’t that have been great? My Mom and grandparents lived across the country and Skype would have been terrific when my daughter was young. Technology has its pluses and minuses and Skype for families is sure a plus.


  8. Oh yeah, “easy to convince” makes sense. 🙂 Your daughter’s paternal grandparents indeed sound like very special people. What a treasure to have in your life. You’ve covered all the bases here. Grandparenting is a challenge much of the time, a delight others.


  9. Connie says:

    Love this 🙂 I like the idea of being a social director the most. If only that’s all I had to do! I am still chuckling over the ‘I’m a stress eater” comment! Too funny! Thanks for linking with me.


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