Perspectives On Becoming A Grandparent
Baby boomers are rapidly facing grandparenthood. If you have just become a grandparent or are going to be a grandparent, you will soon experience a whole new chapter in your life.
Because of the increased mobility in our society today, many grandparents will find themselves not living in the same town, state, or country as their grandchildren. They may be wondering how they will share in the lives of their grandchildren when they are so far away.
Being a long-distance grandparent is enhanced these days through technology. The means of communicating are endless as exemplified by use of the toll-free telephone, videos, e-mail, fax machines, text messaging, overnight special delivery and snail mail.
Since they are experiencing a new role, many grandparents are looking for information and guidelines that can assist in developing this special bond between them and their grandchildren.
Let’s look at some of the roles that grandparents play:
• They teach their grandchildren about family history and tradition through stories and conversations.
• Grandparents often help the value system and personal identity formation of their grandchildren.
• One important role that they play is that of a sounding board for their grandchildren. Simply being a good listener and providing a sympathetic ear can help a grandchild express his or her feelings in a healthy manner. Grandparents and grandchildren are more like friends; children often feel freer to confide in them. This situation especially holds true when a child and his parents are going through a time of turbulence and familial discord.
• Grandparents are sometimes asked to serve as mediators in conflicts between their children and grandchildren. This role should be undertaken with great care and deliberation because of the numerous pitfalls. The key is for grandparents to consider this service as limited and they should only become involved if they are invited by their children to intervene. Involvements to further grandparent’s own agenda are not wise.
• Sometimes, grandparents serve as surrogate parents, becoming caretakers because their adult children are unable or unwilling to fulfill the parenting task. The children’s parents may not be able to provide economically, or may have physical, mental or substance abuse problems, and they rely on grandparents to become actively involved in parenting.
The new roles that accompany grandparenting are important and are usually one of the rewards of getting older.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2010