There’s no denying that being a grandparent is one of the most rewarding jobs in life, with few saying no to spending quality time with their loving grandkids. But from Prue Leith’s perspective, that’s not always the case, and grandparents shouldn’t feel guilty.
Writing for the Daily Mail, the grandmother-of-four, who is best known for being a judge on The Great British Bake Off, admitted she was “a really bad granny”. “I don’t think I have ever remembered a grandchild’s birthday,” she wrote. “And as for doing all those things grannies are meant to do like go to football matches, plays, concerts, forget it.”
The 80-year-old went on to say that she’s too busy working to be the stereotypical granny at home, urging others not to feel guilty for not fitting the stereotype either.
“But then, what would you expect? I’m a granny as I was a mother, a hard-working main breadwinner with a ton of responsibilities. I don’t think my children, brought up as they were, expect me to be anything different, and I bet many working mums and grans are much the same.”
Prue continued: “The problem is society’s expectations haven’t kept up with reality, leaving us with a guilty conscience at not fitting the stereotypical gran sitting in the corner knitting baby clothes. Plenty of grannies I know are secretly a bit resentful at being expected to do so much — the school run, babysitting, taxi service, nannying, outings. Parents just assume that is what their mother is for: free childcare.”
The topic is similar to a debate kicked off by Lara Crisp, editor of popular grandparenting forum Gransnet. “On the surface, it seems the ideal arrangement,” Lara wrote in an opinion piece for The Telegraph in 2018. “Parents are comforted by the fact their darling offspring are being cared for by a loving family member, it allows for a strong bond to develop between the generations, and retired grandparents surely have loads of spare time anyway. But is it that simple?”
For grandparents, it can be a pleasure to spend more time with grandchildren, but for some, it means missing out on enjoying their hard-earned retirement and making sacrifices on finances and social lives.
“It’s not unusual for them to feel they’ve earned their retirement, and particularly the freedom to take a last-minute break or spend the entire summer away from home,” Lara wrote. “And, of course, the main reason that some grandparents are reluctant or resentful is that childcare is bloody hard work.”
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