The important role of being a grandparent to two beautiful granddaughters is one of my greatest joys. Just like parenting, the role doesn’t come with instructions. You often find yourself uncertain of the expectations of others and of yourself!
Every family has its own rhythm and your role as a grandparent will depend on the needs and proximity of your family.
Whether you live close to your grandchildren or far away, you can find a way to fulfill the very important role of being a grandparent.
Investing in creating a strong bond with your grandchildren provides lasting positive effects for you both.
Your grandchildren will receive your love, support and acceptance. This helps to establish emotional well-being in them. You become an extra layer of security and safety in their lives.
Grandchildren help you by restoring youth, vitality and purpose in your life. In the over 50 seasons of our life, it is easy to lose momentum and purpose. Being an involved grandparent can stimulate that spark again. We all thrive when we are needed.
There are many roles that a grandparent can play in the lives of their grandchildren. Every family will have different needs and every grandparent will have different abilities. Here is a list of the most common roles of a grandparent:
- Family Storyteller: you hold the key to the family history. Share it!
- Nurturer: be are a safe harbor and listening ear
- Mentor/Role Model: guide and encourage character and integrity building
- Playmate: have fun with them
- Teacher: share what you know and have learned from your life experience
- Caregiver: babysit or be the extra help that is needed. This is always time well spent.
You may not be all of these things at once. However, over time you will discover your natural bend and connection as a grandparent. Step into the needed role and be flexible. Family rhythms change and your role will need to evolve as well.
The key is to always stay in relationship. There is a detailed article by Kathy Simpson in http://www.extramile.hartford.com about grandparent roles you may be interested in. Here is the article link.
Expectations and Boundaries
It is very important to maintain open and clear communication with the parents about yours and their expectations about your role.
Remember and respect that the parents are in charge of raising their children. Following their requests and limiting unsolicited advice will go a long way toward avoiding family conflict.
Think about the end goal which is time spent with and developing relationship with your grandchildren. Simply enjoy them.
In addition, be clear about how much you want to do. Developing relationship with your grandchildren shouldn’t come at the expense of your own interests and commitments.
Importance of Your Presence
Never underestimate the importance of just being available for your grandchildren. A listening ear and likely a more objective perspective is vital to helping them know that they have your support to face challenges.
You may also be able to help with financial needs. Going shopping with your grandchildren is a real treat. I love little lunch dates or movie nights with my granddaughters. A frozen pizza and a kid’s movie is all it takes to create a memorable evening.
The role of being a grandparent is one I take very seriously. It is my responsibility to pursue relationship with them. I want to have a positive impact on their lives and leave a legacy of wisdom and knowledge that will help them.
My hope is to build a strong foundation where we can both grow and evolve in relationship together.
Most importantly, I want them to always know that Mimi and Popi love them wholeheartedly!