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You are here : home > Raising Children > Parental Dilemmas > Role of Grandparents

Role of Grandparents

In nuclear family set up, grandparents are ignored. Parents feel that grandparents presence will be a interference in raising of the kids. But there are more advantages than disadvantages of having grandparents in the family. Read on to know how.


"Quarrels would not last long, if the fault was only on one side."

With the ever-increasing number of nuclear families where both partners are working, maids are given the job of literally raising the children. Important developmental tasks like socialization, disciplining and language development are left to the television or this housemaid. 

While parents know this is not in the best interests of their children, they still accept it because it does not afford any interference in their routine life. The parents [especially the mother] experience full liberty and authority towards the growing child and the entire family administration at the meager cost of monthly salary of the maid. The advantages of having the company of grandparents are ignored, because parents don't want anyone bossing them around or teaching them how to raise their own children, and rightly so. 

The mother has no intention of humiliating either the husband or the grandparents. All she wants is parenting without criticism and she wants to avoid being unnecessarily blamed by all for any misbehavior by the child.

However, there are more advantages than disadvantages of having grandparents in the family. It all depends on everybody's personalities, expectations, contributions, and communication styles. Often parents and grandparents get into a situation where they are competing at 'parenting'. The smaller issues like disciplining, menu for lunch, T.V. watching, birthday gifts, dressing styles, doing chores etc. soon become the topics of disputes. The previous confrontations are remembered and bounced back and conflicts set in.

Many times, the father and grandfather keep out of trouble, only to listen to the grumbling of their wives who no longer get along. The children are smart enough to take the advantage of the situation for their own benefit. What should be done to avoid such situations? Can those broken families be brought together again? Is it possible for the father to give instructions to his parents? Are we following the western style of 'homes for the aged? Is that our own destiny when we become old? This article aims at giving both sides of the story.


Strategies for parents:

  1. Avoid shouting or talking back at grandparents. Even if there is a dispute, discuss it when children are not around. Remember children may not be good listeners but they are very good observers. 

  2. Lay down certain ground rules which should be followed by everybody - including the grandparents, e.g. T.V. watching. Let the rules be discussed with all prior to implementation.

  3. If you feel that you are being unfairly blamed and criticized, you should discuss it immediately. If you sense interference, double game, taking sides etc. on the part of grandparents, be bold enough to openly discuss it. Let the steam blow off early. 

  4. Convey your expectations very clearly to each member of the family. Let everybody know what he/she is supposed to do.

  5. Praise the grandparents if you think they have done a good job, or if they have helped you. Never expect too much from them. Consider the age-related restrictions. Avoid criticism and bad remarks. It really hurts at their age.

  6. Give responsibilities to the grandparents when you are away. Let them feel that they also count. Make use of their experience and wisdom instead of making 'use' of them. To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved. 

  7. Arrange for regular family meetings and get-togethers. Having at least one family meal together is a very important step towards healthy family relationships.

  8. Feel comfortable to take advices from grandparents regarding important issues, e.g. disciplining, career choices, financial matters, family rituals etc.

  9. What you do to the grandparents probably will be repeated few years later by your children. Be a good role model before you expect good treatment from your children, when you become old.

  10. Be prepared to face not-so-good relationships in the future. The times are changing. Do not expect the same amount of affection and intimacy from today's children, which you are showing towards today's grandparents.


Strategies for grandparents:

  1. Remember the basic rule: You are not parents. Never interfere with sensitive issues like discipline and studies, unless asked for. Avoid taking sides, especially in front of the children. 

  2. Never humiliate/criticize parents in front of their children. Whatever you want to advise should be in private. Do not use children as means of fighting with parents. Family conflicts and raising children should be separate. Never use phrases like, 'if it was me...' or 'In my time...' or 'When you were a kid...' or 'When your become old as me, you would be worse than what I am.'etc.  The demands for parenting and what constitutes parenting is constantly changing. What was rational yesterday may not be valid today and will never be applicable tomorrow.

  3. Give positive remarks, when you feel that the parents have done a good job. Be quick to compliment, and slow to blame. 

  4. Try to compensate for working parents when they are away. Try to cushion the stress and demands of modern day parenting. Take initiatives and responsibilities during crisis without dominating the show. Your task of parenting continues even when you are grandparents. Give your comfortable lap not only to grandchildren but also to the parents, when needed. After all, you are the pillars of the family. Pillars are for supporting, not for creating obstacles.

  5. Children, especially adolescents, may rebel. Do not feel humiliated in that case. Discuss the steps that should be taken, in case you sense danger. Use humor whenever possible. Family rituals and gatherings offer the best platform for discussing and negotiating issues, which need delicate handling. Try to inculcate family norms and values into your growing grandchildren and give proper explanations each time you do so. 

  6. Accept your own limitations as grandparents without taking things personally. Old age is not so bad when you consider the alternatives. Share your physical as well as mental problems with family members. Be bold to resist being 'used up'.

  7. Avoid constant criticism. It gives a message that nobody except you is capable of running the family. The parents may feel hopeless and inferior if you constantly pass negative remarks. Children also lose respect towards the parents. 

  8. Give priority to parent's concerns over your grandchildrens' demands. Listen to both sides in case of disputes and find a mutually agreeable solution, thus acting as a buffer.

  9. Take vacations for short periods. Let family members feel that you are needed.

  10. Help the parents and grandchildren in whatever way you can with your experience and knowledge. Staying away from the kitchen and avoiding constant interference can be a great help by itself.

Whatever the causes of disputes between elders, they should never be discussed outside the home. They should be resolved quickly and forgotten - not thrashed about again and again.

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Recent comments (17 comments)
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Comment: 
Name: reeta
Country: India

Grand parents also fulfill a v imp need, unconditional love untempered by the parent who could be bound by rules and regulations. Story tellings,doing things just for pure fun and only fun can happen a lot more with grand parents. My daughters remember playing in the pile of sand, imagining a beach, in the desert of Rajasthan with her grandmother.
 
Name: Who am I
Country: U.S.A.

my father served as a very strict disciplinarion when i was growing up. he was my role model until he broke my heart when he cheated and ultimately left my mother and me and my brother. now i am grown up i am a single mother with 3 kids and my dad lives with me. he helps with picking the kids up from school and i really appreciate that, but i think that i have held down my household quite well on my own. i own two homes and two vehicles which are paid off and i have relatively good credit. the problem is now my dad want's to critisize me when my kids are getting out of hand yelling at eachother and i discipline them which is usually in the form of setting them straignt in a firm voice and restricting their play time. this usually ends up in tears from my kids. but my dad will actuall confront me in front of the kids while im disciplineing them and say that i shouldn't yell at them and that i am going to ruin them by doing this. i am so on the virge of asking him to leave but i think i should talk to him about this 1st however i am still very intimidated by him due to his strict ways when i was growing up that it makes it hard for me to tell him. any advice?
 
Name: conflicts
Country: India

hie i now undersand and will impliment the 10 tips . lets see??
 
Name: Dr J.S.Tuteja, paediatrician. Indore
Country: india

today's parents should read this excellant article because they are the future grandparents, so learn from today for your future role in the family
 
Name: jessica
Country: mexico

it is very useful
 
Name: Dr Anjali
Country: india

very good article and good tips for both the generation.psychological studies have proved thatgrandparents have a significant role in emotional cognitive and linguistic( my paper)development of child.so for the sake of healthy generation,both physically and emotionally,it is duty of parents and grandparents to preserve our joint family structure by following these tips.
 
Name: Ramendra Kumar
Country: India

excellent article. very well balanced with sound advice for the parents as well as the grandparents. looking forward to more such sane advice.
 
Name: mohana
Country: India

it is very good article for both parents and grand parents to avoid misunderstandings and help them to understand each other and also to learn forget and forgive.
 
Name: Annoyed
Country: USA

my kids' grandparents (my ex-in-laws) drive me nuts. their own son left me and my sons, and now they act as if it is their job to tell me how to raise my kids, what to do, how to discipline, even down to whether i should have a second dog or not. they make absolutely no allowance for the kids' both being young teens, and scream and yell about the least little transgression. i live next door to them and they do help me out by keeping an eye on the kids, but now that the kids are 13 and 14 i am considering selling the house and moving as far away as i can so i can be their only mother again. they messed up with their own son so they try to make it up with mine. and i am sick of the interference. hell, i was only married to their son for five years...but i ended up getting a life sentence.
 
Name: denisha
Country: Mauritius

it's gud that people think a bit about grandparents koz they r the most important 1. we wudn't hav been here without them, mind you!!!! z article was great
 
Name: Jacques G. Risdon
Country: Canada

gramps because of the near impossibility of finding a perfect partner, our children are rarely perfect. a mother is born. we once owned a house in florida. in port-charlotte to be precise. it was located, as floridian homes love to be, on a canal that allowed you the luxury of tying up your 14-foot yacht to your own dock. across the canal, kitty-corner as we say, was a similar lot settled by a white couple who took advantage of one of our long absences from fl to have a child. how that happened i cannot tell. all i know is that from one stay in fl to the next, a mother was born. at least my perception is that a mother had come into existence. a child too of course but the mother was what was really the object of this exercise in continuing overpopulation. it was the mother i heard constantly: the mother, the mother, the mother. the tiny tot was faced with the immensely difficult task of exploring ponce de leon’s discovery on foot. he should have fallen on his head or on his butt at every step but he plodded along with remarkable persistence in spite of all difficulties. as if gravity, poorly cut grass, uneven ground, thorny weeds, the roasting sun, red ants, the proximity of a murky canal, and the occasional visit by alligators which florida feels bound to protect, were not enough to discourage a new human being from trying to get around, this tiny tot was further handicapped by having a mother dogging his every step. her role was clear: discourage this newborn explorer. she constantly yelled no at the top of her voice. no! no ken, no! no o no, ken. ken no! warding off real or imaginary dangers. the noise haunted me as i tried to read peacefully on my side of the canal: no! when the shouting stopped, so imprinted by her nos was my mind, that i kept hearing them for hours till late into the night. it has been years since we sold our house and the baby is now a teenager, if he survived his mother’s shouts, the mindless alligators and the semi-blind cataracted retirees driving their enormous american cars from air conditioned super-malls to air conditioned super-malls. i can picture ken in a moment of passion, intent on kissing a beautiful, sun toasted, blond coed. he leans over, his vision blurred by his desire and her nearness. their lips will now meet and the world about him ceases to exist in his absolute concentration of feelings when he hears the voice of his past scream: “no_o_o! ken.” the moment has passed. sorry. poor ken. forget ken. reflect on this. there is no doubt in my mind that i would risk my life if i walked over to this proud father, again in a shopping centre albeit a canadian shopping centre this time, overheated but exactly the same as the overcooled floridian versions (complete with a wal-mart and a mc do) and told him that his child appears to me seriously deficient. yet he has just called out to his child, loudly so that all could hear: “ don’t run cathy, you are going to fall and hurt yourself!” what part of cathy is of poor quality is not apparent. her legs sure work well. her eyes seem ok because she’s expertly avoided obstacles such as that little dog that crossed her path a moment ago. as i followed them through the centre before she gave that unpredictable dash to meet the world head-on, she was talking to her dad most intelligently and asking sensible questions. “dad, why is that man so fat?” but this dad obviously knows of synapse problems in her brain, running synapse problems, and has resolved long ago to prevent deadly accidents. “don’t run, you’re sure to fall!” we sometimes go to parks. parents by and large, also visit parks although they are located in the great outdoors in many cases and not necessarily in shopping centres. in parks, you will hear parents motivating their children to avoid wild, life-threatening activities such as climbing up a ladder: “don’t! you know you’ll fall and break your neck”. their fears may be justified in this case. designers of these playgrounds are obviously envious people who, unable to have children of their own, create equipment so dangerous that an untutored child is sure to smash his jaws on a steel bar if he slips or otherwise seriously maim himself. this situation reveals an auto-compensating factor built into the human race to educate the young: while parents overprotect, these other adults make sure that kids still get to learn about danger. whatever! you will hear parents warning their kids about their inability to cope with what’s ahead of them all over north america’s playground. “don’t! you’re going to hurt yourself.” i was once a parent myself but fortunately before the days of the camcorder. the result is that there are not that many embarrassing records of how i behaved except for the memories of our seven children and these i can dispute as distorted one-sided views of twisted little minds. when alone with myself, however, i cannot altogether dismiss certain images of what my teachings have been. did i yell “don’t”, i am afraid so. once or twice, or more. so i was not the fine parent that i hold as an ideal to others now that my parenting days are over. the trouble is that to be a great parent you should first be a grandparent. this is difficult for most. it will also be contested by many. nevertheless it is true and you would do well to take this very seriously.
 
Name: Rishi
Country: India

it's very good article
 
Name: kirsten
Country: New Zealand

what is this about
 
Name: emmavictoria
Country: Lebanon

help me
 
Name: yashita
Country: India

u have written good but tell me if they are not willing to take care of my child &i am in need of them as i am a working lady
 
Name: rita
Country: India

dr kaniker has done a great job by writing this article.as parents we need to remember that old age is nearing us too.a ball always bounces back.what our children see us doing they follow the same foot steps.
 
Name: geeta
Country: India

must read for all


 

 
 
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