The five types of Grandparents, which one are you?

 If you are a grandparent, you may be thoroughly enjoying and appreciating this role, perhaps more than any other you’ve ever had. And it goes both ways, it is well known fact that grandparents significantly influence their grandchildren and have a strong influence on the adults they become.




But every grandparent is different has their own unique style. The last thorough study of grandparenting was conducted back in 1965 (can you believe it). In the study, The University of Chicago’s, Bernice Neugarten, identified 5 patterns of grandparenting. See if you can relate to one of these:

1. Formal grandparent

This grandparent follows what are believed to be the appropriate and traditional guidelines for a grandparenting role. They never like to interfere or overstep the mark with their children and their parenting. They see themselves as a parent first and a grandparent second. They support their child by providing assistance to help out and have a strong interest in the grandchildren.

Where you will find them: At prescribed events such as birthday parties and christenings.

2. Fun seeker

For this grandparent it is all about fun. They get a kick out of surprising and entertaining their grandchildren and enjoy the leisure aspects of the role. They don’t worry about “spoiling” their grandkids with extravagant gifts and expensive experiences. Grandchildren see these grandparents as far more fun then their parents.

Where you will find them: At theme park or circus joining in with the grandchildren.

3. Surrogate parent

This grandparent acts like a parent when they are with their grandchildren. They feel responsible for how the grandkids turn out and may intervene with correction and discipline and help “bring them up right”. Surrogates might have a regular schedule of caring for the grandkids and consider it their job to reward good behaviour and punish unacceptable behaviour just like they did with their own kids.

Where you will find them: At sports sidelines cheering on their grandchildren.

4. Reservoir of wisdom

This person is clearly the patriarch / matriarch who dispenses advice, wisdom and resources but also has strong respect from the parent generation too. They may not be as hands on as the previous grandparents described but are always there when needed for consultation and advice.

Where you will find them: At their homes, as grandchildren and parents come to them.

5. Distant figure

This grandparent does not have a strong presence in the lives of their grandchildren. This may be because of distance, personal choice, busyness, frequent travel, or by the parents choosing to eliminate the grandparent from their child’s lives.

Where you will find them: Not with their grandchild.


Do any these categories have your name all over it? Perhaps you may find that you are a combination of two or three types depending on what is going on in your life, time and resources available. There is no right or wrong style and from time to time you may find yourself dropping into another role.

We are keen to hear from you, what grandparent role are you and what things do you do that show it?


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