The moment you become a grandparent, you automatically take on a new role in the family. Your role is defined by both you and your adult children, and frankly, its up to you what you get out of it, and what you put into it. But I personally think you owe your grandkids something special as a grandparent. Don’t you?
Some parents think you owe your grandchildren the role of relentless babysitter, taking care of the kids whenever they want to go out. “You’ve got nothing better to do on a Saturday night, after all every night is Sunday in retirement….” Whilst some grandparents are overjoyed in this role, others, like my own, are absolutely sure from the very start that they never want to be the “regular babysitter”.
Some grandparents come to visit their grandchildren and get down on the floor and play interactively with them, teaching and sharing, building a real interactive relationship. Others pop by occasionally more to say they have seen their grandkids than anything else, and rarely ask much about them, nor speak directly to them. Do they need to do anything more? They visited after all… This is a point game.
Some grandparents live so far away from their grandchildren that they lose any ability to connect with them, even forgetting to send them birthday presents and neglecting their role… Just because you don’t see them regularly, does this negate your responsibility as a grandparent?
Some grandparents tell their stories, teach respect and help kids learn. Others refuse to be called grandma and want to be called by their first name and be part of the party all the time… because their kids had the grandkids a little earlier than they thought was ideal. Is it fair to deprive a kid of the sentimental role of a grandparent just because you aren’t ready for it?
Some grandparents go to see their kids play sport, achieve and succeed, others would rather stay at home and read the paper … Does this teach kids about their role in the family and the importance of close relationships… ?
Some grandparents work full time or travel so much they can’t find time to see their grandkids… Is this a choice and should they do something about it?
Some grandparents save all year long to afford a small gift that teaches their grandchild something really special about life, history and culture. Others shower their kids in licensed products, technology and big ticket items to get closer to them.
Some grandparents pay for their grandkids education, while others would rather have a round the world holiday….
And some grandparents raise their grandkids while the children’s parents are working, accepting their role as daytime carer, and relishing in the task. Are they really happy? Only they know.
Some grandparents take their grandkids on holidays with them, enjoying special times and quiet moments. Is this their right or their obligation?
What do you owe your grandchildren? Is it your role as a matriarch or patriarch to be active and contribute significantly to the development of the child, their parents and the community? Or can you pick and choose from what interests you…. Lets debate.