The Magic of Grandparents
Grandparents offer countless benefits and may assume a variety of roles in a grandchild's life.
Last week the Grand Life blog discussed the Magic of Grandchildren; if you missed that blog, click here to read about the happiness grandchildren add to the grandparent’s life. This week, we’ll look at it from the grandchild’s view; what purpose do grandparents serve for the grandchild? Are grandparents also magical from the grandchildren’s perspective?
In the ideal scenario, grandparents get to assume the plum role of fun, good-time people. They take their grandchildren on outings, bake cookies, play games and tell stories- maybe get the kids a little too sugared up and excited- and then send them home to their parents to deal with the aftermath. In this much-desired grandparenting role, the grandparents have the luxury of establishing a “good cop” role with their grandkids. This is where the phrase, “If mom says no, ask grandma” originates. Although I don’t advocate going against the parent’s wishes, it is the grandparent’s right to do some spoiling, right? My mom taught my daughters to sew and bake, and my dad taught them to garden and build things. My parents also taught my daughters history through telling stories of their childhoods during the Depression; valuable, first-hand stories of how to survive tough times. Kids benefit from having grandparents in their lives; they add adventure, unconditional love, and they pass on family history and traditions.
Often grandparents are asked to assist with child care duties when both parents work. This changes the role a little because when providing daily care, you must limit the spoiling and set more structure and rules for the children. Offsetting the negative aspect is the closeness formed from having such close contact. This week my daughter will return to work, and I’ll be providing care about twenty hours of care a week for my seven-week-old grandson. I was happy to offer my services, and I suspect it will end up being a gift to myself rather than to my daughter and son-in-law. In talking with friends that have provided child care for their grandchildren, I have heard it serves to help provide an extremely close bond between the grandchild and grandparent.
Grandparents can be an extra layer of security for kids, a soft place to land when life gets tough. This may be as simple as providing an understanding ear or a shoulder to cry on or as extreme as providing a safe home when the parent’s stability is in jeopardy. Grandparents may step into a parenting role in less ideal situations such as incarceration, drug rehabilitation or inability of the parents to properly care for the children. The rate of grandparents raising grandchildren has escalated dramatically, with recent figures estimating 2.7 million grandparents in the United States raising grandchildren. Oklahoma ranks as one of the highest in the nation in those numbers (look for a future blog specifically focusing on grandparents raising grandchildren).
Perhaps the most important benefit grandparents offer grandchildren is the intangible; the perks that are almost impossible to quantify and difficult to describe. It’s love, a very biased, irrational, crazy love. Grandparents look at their grandchildren through rose-colored glasses, or maybe it’s age- related vision problems, but either way- all we see is perfection. Like most grandparents, I look at my grandbaby and see a genius, an athlete, an artist, a great humanitarian, a future leader all wrapped up in a great-looking kid. Grandparents see all the potential and possibilities in our grandchildren and are all too happy to tell everyone else about it, hence the popular bumper sticker- ask me about my grandchildren. When I look at the black and white image at the top of this post, a picture of my grandfather with my cousin and me, I’m flooded with memories of fun times and the feeling of being loved by my grandparents. Being loved so completely and purely is something every child deserves; grandparents are magical!