What do you owe your grandchildren? 298



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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?

What do you owe your grandchildren?

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. 

image: pavaranda

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. Impossible to generalise on this. Each family is so different, and each grandparent, parent and child is so different. I could not do what some of my friends do in terms of babysitting. Circumstances sometimes alter the ideals with which we approached the thought of grandparenting. Just as there are selfish parents, there are selfish grandparents. My respect goes to those who have to parent their grandchildren.

  2. Becoming grandparents at 43/48, my husband and I weren’t sure just how we would fit into this new stage of our lives. We still had a 5 and 8 year old ourselves, so we certainly didn’t consider ourselves as old enough to be grandparents. We were still busy with a young family, so we were not the typical “Grandma and Grandad”. We had both lost our own grandparents when we were quite young, so had nothing to base our new relationship on. So, our first grandson and then our next three grandsons have been welcomed into our lives with love,and a real sense of excitement as we join in their lives as they grow and we grow into our role of “Granny and Poppy”.
    We have been available for the babysitting role, but it has never been expected of us. We have taken the boys away on holidays, but it has never been expected of us, and have been involved in their school life, but it has never been expected of us.
    I am proud to say I have only missed one sportsday, have been to swimming carnivals, music recitals, Easter and Christmas plays, Grandparents Days, (sometimes Mother’s Days as well when Mum has been working),fetes,soccer and hockey games. Sometimes its a juggle to get to these things, but when they ring and ask you to come along, and then you see their face when you turn up, you wouldnt miss it for quids.
    We are lucky enough to be able to drop in on the boys, sometimes for just 5 mins, other times for hours. We also have them here when time allows, and a game of cricket in the yard, or our 7 year old grandson trying to teach Poppy to play the Wii keeps us smiling. To sit and chat with them about whatever is a real joy, and I hope we can keep that going as they head towards their teenage years. I know we are very lucky to be able to enjoy our grandchildren, and we are not taken for granted by their parents. However, we are not afraid to say “No” to either generation, if sometimes we do just want to be Carmel & Greg, and not always Granny & Poppy.
    I think we do owe our grandchildren something. We can sit and listen, when Mum and Dad may be too busy. We can read or listen to a story,because we dont have to rush off. We can go to the park, we can kick a ball, have a game of cricket/hockey to show them we want to play and be with them. We can go shopping and count the apples we buy together, we can go on a picnic or a bushwalk just to enjoy each others company. These are all simple things we can do, our time is our best gift to them.
    One of our grandsons was staying over recently, and his Mum had told him if he was good for us she would take him to the local fete to have some rides. He asked me to tell his Mum he’d been naughty so he didnt have to go the fete, and could stay with us!
    Another of our grandsons, who loves to fix cars with his dad, has told me when he gets his own car, he’s going to come and pick me up and drive me everywhere!
    I love being a grandparent,,, we get to have all the fun and none of the everyday drudgery. We are very lucky people.

    1 REPLY
    • How beautiful, it would seem that you guys have a wonderful relationship with your grandchildren, I feel sure that you are all blessed by the time you spend together

  3. My daughter and her husband moved to far North Qld when my grand daughter was 15 months old. I missed them so much I was gradually ‘closing down’ my life here so I could move up there to see them more regularly. Luckily for me they decided to come back to SA. Now I have 2 grandchildren and see them every day. BLISS

  4. Mine all live far away but I certainly haven’t lost contact with them – you can’t generalise about this. Skype is a wonderful way of keeping in touch ! And I send them cards by snail mail, and emails via their mother’s accounts ! We visit each other several times a year, as often as we can. It’s nothing to do with distance, and everything to do with making an effort.

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