Do you feel pressure to be a better grandparent? 134



View Profile

As a grandparent today, you’re more likely to be working, studying or even pursuing a second career than previous generations. You may be enjoying nomadic wanderings or simply busy with friends, causes or hobbies. In other words, you have a life.

And while your children may have championed your active lifestyle before they started reproducing, now they have three kids under five and they’re dropping hints about early retirement and wondering when you plan to “settle down”.

Whether they’re conscious of it or not, your children are likely to have certain expectations of just how involved you’re “supposed” to be as a grandparent, and conflict can arise when their expectations outweigh your ability or desire to be Supergran.

In 2012, baby guru and grandmother Robin Barker shocked parents by telling the Sydney Morning Herald that many grandparents secretly resent looking after their grandchildren on a regular basis. With nearly 300,000 grandparents responsible for some or all of their grandchildren’s care, this suggests a big problem that no one’s willing to discuss.

A further study by the Grandparent’s Association in the UK found a significant number of grandparents felt their relationships, health and finances were negatively affected by their regular grandchild-caring responsibilities. They told the organisation their children and/or their children’s partners expected too much of them, which led to resentment on both sides.

While “granspolitation” is at one end of the spectrum, issues at the other end may be as simple as expecting you to make spontaneous offers of babysitting, being willing to change nappies or covering school holidays so parents can work.

Managing grand expectations

Whatever the expectations are of you as a grandparent, it’s important to be aware of them and address any issues to ensure they don’t get in the way of a happy, balanced life and your family relationships.

Val Holden from Relationships Australia Queensland says, “If you don’t manage expectations you may find yourself committed to things you really don’t want to do and missing out on the joy of being a grandparent. You need to consider what you are prepared to do, enjoy doing and have the capacity to do so you don’t build resentment, not only towards your children but your grandchildren, too.”

Val suggest sitting down with your children to talk through your role as grandparents. “What do you think is fair and manageable for your lifestyle? What do you want your role to be and what can you offer your children in support? Being clear with your children about what you’re prepared to do prior to them asking will help alleviate misunderstandings and set up a mutually acceptable arrangement.”

Here are some other ideas on managing grand expectations:

  • If possible, have the conversation before the grandkids come along about what kind of grandparent you want to be.
  • Be aware of your expectations of yourself as a grandparent and be prepared to accept the situation if these don’t match up with reality.
  • Discuss grandparenting roles with your partner to ensure you’re on the same page.
  • Establish some boundaries with your children. If, for example, last-minute non-emergency babysitting is not on your agenda, gently assert this fact.
  • Talk to your peers about the pressure you feel to perform. Chances are you’re not the only one feeling this way. You may gain a new perspective from someone else’s situation.
  • Never feel guilty about wanting your own life. A happy grandparent is a great grandparent!


Have you ever felt pressure to perform as a grandparent? Do you secretly harbour resentment at the role you’re expected to play?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I love being an involved grandparent so l love it when my kids let me! Thankfully they do:-) lve got nothing much else t do n l always say no if l have. They respect that

  2. Hell no the love for our grandkids makes us do our best I love cuddles and kisses from them the smiles from them makes it all better no wonder jesus said God bless the children amen

  3. I’m an extraordinary grandparent, my g-kids love me. ,my children have little to no say. If I’m not wanted or needed so be it however all kids look up to a strong loving grandparent. I love mine to infinity and back and they know it.

  4. The pressure I feel comes from myself. I don’t have the energy to look after the grandies like I did with my own children. I feel I should be making their time here (2 half days a week) stimulating and educating and as I said to their (working) mother, “We can provide them with toys, trikes books etc and a huge vocabulary but as playmates we are a total failure.”

    4 REPLY
    • Leonie, I took my littlest to the library and to Jump and Jiggle, run by the Uniting Church, where I made great friends for playdates! She is full time school now but when she comes to stay on school holidays, we reconnect with her friends…

    • I relate, I love them I mind them but I am not a playmate, I don’t have the energy, thankfully my husband is much better at playing with them and they love him a lot and show it.

  5. I only feel privileged and Blessed! My reward for all those years of caring while parents had to work, is a most wonderful loving bond by my now mostly grown up grandies. For the only baby, I am unfortunately unable to do the lifting I once did,and fortunately his mum is able to stay home with him. My situation was well stated by me, prior to him even being a twinkle in their eyes. My other grandies had this great idea that Nanna would continue the role for them Lol, but they now well and truly,get the picture that we are about to start our nomadic, well earned lifestyle!

  6. Matching wellies…we’re off! My two keep me active…love the time spent with them, which is several times a week..l am blessed.

  7. Being a grandparent is THE best thing that ever happened to us. We take our “real job”!very seriously and look forward to each minute with our grandkids….. They are our world

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *