Being the best grandparent

Dr Lynda Shaw provides tips for grandparents who want to offer support without being accused of being overbearing or having to take on surrogate childcare duti…
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Being a grandparent can be quite daunting, but most for us it is a time to celebrate a new life, create a wonderful bond with a baby who we can love but hand back, and provide support to our growing family.

Many psychologists critically analyse the role of grandparent but it was leading gerontologist Bernice Neugarten who identified the core five patterns of grand-parenting as:

  1. Formal grandparent: follows what are believed to be the appropriate guidelines for the grandparenting role including occasional services and maintaining an interest, but not being overly involved.
  2. Fun seeker: primarily provides entertainment for the grandchild.
  3. Surrogate parent: takes over the caretaking role for the child.
  4. Reservoir of family wisdom: the head of the family who dispenses advice but also controls the parent generation.
  5. Distant figure: has infrequent contact with the grandchildren, perhaps appearing on special occasions.

As with anything grandparent’s circumstances can vary hugely. Living a distance away isn’t so much a bad thing, in some cases it strengthens your bond and makes time more valuable together. It doesn’t have to mean jumping in the car and visiting them constantly; a phone call, text or email can offer reassurance that you are there and that you care.

Top grandparenting tips:

Grandmother's advice

Grandmother’s advice

Keep advice to a minimum

Having had children yourself, you can use your experience to help your son or daughter but be warned – don’t offer it if you are not asked unless you really feel you need to. Try not to be too dictatorial, they may opt to do things differently which you must appreciate. This new stage means many visitors and lots of attention on the baby so be intuitive and resourceful and offer help when needed.

Traditional banana cake and a cup of coffee

Traditional banana cake and a cup of coffee

Reward and treat carefully

Treating your grandchild and making them smile is what everyone wants. However, buy things in moderation and with the clearance from the parents. Overdoing treats will become more of an expectation rather than a reward.

Grandparenting vs child care

You may find at times you are asked to be a child carer. It is really important to find the time to spend with your grandchildren. However, know when it’s too much for you and be fair to yourself too.

Last modified: June 10, 2021

Written by 1:56 pm Relationships, Relationships and dating