Grandparents offer a lot more than just free babysitting!
Grandparents play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren. Their significance is commonly couched in terms of the support and help they give to the parents - they're often seen as stress buffers and supporters, and maybe family historians.
But they're more important to their grandchildren than that.
Research (and our own life experience) tells us that children find a unique acceptance in their relationships with grandparents. Freed from the daily pressure of parenting, the bonds grandparents forge with their grandchildren are both very close and very strong (and often very accepting - grandparents have seen it all before, remember!).
The love a child feels for their mum and dad is never going to be overshadowed, but the bond between grandparents and grandchildren can be as strong - just different.
Grandparents often have more time. They can be playmates as well as role models and mentors. Grandma and grandpa's home is the perfect place for children to start learning that they are loved, safe and secure in other homes, and they can see how other households work, how other relationships succeed, and how they can relate to adults other than Mum and Dad. Children can learn how to be nice, how to act when their parents aren't around and how to follow rules that might be different than the rules at home.
All in an environment of unconditional acceptance and love.
A healthy relationship with grandparents can give children:
- a mentor to help with problems
- companionship and someone to talk to
- someone to stand beside them
- a window into their parent's childhood
- a sense of adventure
- kindness, humour and patience
- a zest for life
- family traditions
- the ability to laugh at oneself
- life lessons
Sometimes grand-parenting can be complicated due to past issues between grandparents and their adult children. Both grandparents and parents need remember they are connected through children they all love dearly.
It's all about love and grandparents can offer that in abundance.
Everyone has a lot to gain.