Competitive grandparenting: adding spice to life at 60 22



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Kevin Rudd, back in 2012, announced his grandfather-status with enormous pride… “I have just become a grandfather,” Mr Rudd was quoted at a barbecue as saying, to much applause.  I’ve got to rip down to the Mater Hospital and inspect the inheritance.”

Mr Rudd later wrote on Twitter: “Well folks, I’m totally stoked.”

In a similar moment of grandparenting pride, HRH Prince Charles was found to be bragging about his granddaughter sleeping through the night at just 6 weeks old. “Not a word of a lie, six weeks, I tell you.”

Proud grandfather

Have a good listen next time you join others for a cuppa. I’ll bet the conversation at some point bends to the grandkids and what awesome lives they are living, or how terrific they are.

You have to love competitive grandparenting. It has all the features of competitive motherhood, but it is three levels better in my opinion because the grandparents don’t have to pay for, nor logistically run around after the achievements. They can claim all the joy as their own and none of the work. Sounds great doesn’t it.

Can you hear it?

“My granddaughter can play the piano like a magician,” one says.

“Wow! That’s awesome! Mine just got an award for science,” says the next.

“Gosh, Tommy is on tour this week for the state titles”, says a third.

Meanwhile, none of those beautiful grandmothers has spoken to their grandies in two maybe three, or even four weeks. No need, their parents pass through the stories just fine enough for them to be proud, busy grandparents who catch up with their busy little people on the holidays chiefly.

We all love it though. In fact I dare say there is no more enjoyable pastime than a little competitive grandparenting. Could that be why the Federal Government is contemplating Grandparenting Support Payments? They know the winning ticket to Baby Boomer votes could be through giving them more ability to help and support their grandkids, and to give back to their families.

And what better things has anyone got to do that share Facebook pics of their beautiful baby grandchildren in cute poses. No one resents you when you’re a grandmother or grandfather, after all, you didn’t give birth to them, so you are not bragging about your own offspring, you’re sharing the delights of those nearest and dearest. Everyone wants to see… don’t they.

Do you know what I love about new proud grandparents? They seem to have forgotten they did it all themselves 30 years ago, and everything old is new again. Except their eyes aren’t falling out of their heads with tiredness.

Funny though how grandparents all tell the awesome tales. I always hear about the angel grandchild that is sleeping through the night, or the pretty little girl that is beginning her first dance class at 2 years old. Never do I hear about the terrorising two year old child that his parents’ can’t control, and the grandparents aren’t really game to try.

It’s absolutely wonderful to have grandchildren come to visit, with their parents, knowing you can love, cuddle them, photograph them and share those photos on social media, and still wave them off at the gate at 8pm (at the latest) and sleep til 7am tomorrow comfortably without interruption, later if you want.

And so I ask you with much entertainment, if your friends are beautifully competitive grandparents. Do you think it sometimes gets a little out of control in the same way mothers of newborns compete? Or is it all for the best?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. II must be in the minority when it comes to grandchildren or for that matter my own children. I have never been one to brag about the achievements of any family member and to be honest I find it annoying that others do assume that what ever their kids or grand kids do is of interest to me. We can be duly proud of our children and their achievements without making it world news. To me a person who exults about their children at every chance they get feels that there is a need to make sure that everyone sees the child in the same light. They feel a need to expel any doubt that the child might not be perfectly behaved. I find that the children and/or grandchildren of those who constantly do this are in fact not the great achievers nor are they perfectly behaved. I wonder; does this stem from what we are calling ” competitive grandparents” or is it more from deep seated insecurity and doubt.

  2. No grandchildren and I will never have any but I am a great great Aunty, My Nieces and Nephews are not that much younger than I am. There are 9 generations of my family now , since we came here as Convicts. And my great great nieces and nephews are in their late teens so I will probably see another generation before I die and another great to the Aunty 🙂

  3. Yes my friends & I are guilty but we do share the ‘good & the bad’. Grandchildren are awesome (especially mine !!!!)

  4. There is nothing more boring than someone else’s grandchildren!!!!! Sorry but I have little interest in a photo on a phone of a rug rat that I do not know and have no interest in knowing.

    1 REPLY
    • How sad John Miller, rejoice in the happiness of friends and family. These stories and photos are people telling you, how much they are in love with their grand children. It costs you nothing to smile and let them talk and you can always bring up another subject. The love we feel as grandparents is different to the love we have for our children. It overwhelms, it opens your heart, it made my heart alar (to grow wings).

  5. We all love our Grandchildren but don’t let them take up every space in your life, we nearing the end of our time, get out there an enjoy things you love

  6. I’m not a grandparent, just an observer of people who are……and it is amusing to watch the one-upmanship.

  7. I have definately been a proud and vocal granma….. many times….. I have 7…. AMAZING grandchildren.

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