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.
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