What is the role of a grandfather?
Are there different roles for grandparents for each family unit within the basic family structure? The type of role each grandparent plays depends on many things, some of which you have no control over.
In most cases, those who see their grandchildren regularly tend to have good relationships with their own children. That tends to be the foundation for a successful relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. However, for some, even in this category, they may not see their grandchildren as often as they would like. Perhaps there is some tension with a daughter-in-law or son-in-law, there may be issues between your child and your spouse that may affect the relationship you have with your grandchild or grandchildren. It is possible that she has a closer relationship with her daughter’s children than with her son’s. Or maybe location is a factor: availability can be determined by whether they’re within a few blocks or an hour’s drive. And how often you see them may have more to do with time constraints than the relationship itself.
For most practical grandparents who see their grandchildren regularly, they don’t have to do big things with them; you can snuggle up, read to them, bake cookies, sing together or do a craft, share a fun time, make time for them, and most of all, let them know how important they are to you. In the process there will be wonderful memories for both of the good times you have shared.
The other type is those grandparents who try to be close at a distance. This is more common now than before. We are a more mobile society now due to the need to go where the jobs are, where the other spouse’s family lives, etc. In most cases, it has nothing to do with your relationship with your child. Being a distant grandparent is a bit more difficult and may require more creativity. It will be equally important to let them know how much you love them by calling them regularly, sending them ‘just because’ cards, or emailing them if they are older, sending them small inexpensive surprises, and making an effort to be together when possible. Special for special occasions such as birthdays.
For those who are raising grandchildren, the role will be completely different. It will tend to be more like the role of parents with the daily concerns and responsibilities that parents face. Although there is daily contact, the children have already lost something, their parents, so they will need even more love. It will be necessary not only to be a father for these children, but they will also need the love of a grandfather.
And for those who have been denied access to their grandchildren, it is a loss for both them and the grandchild. Grandparents play an important role in the lives of grandchildren. These children miss out on much of what a grandparent can offer: nonjudgmental care, undivided attention, a sense of family, security, and extra love. No one, and especially children, can have too much love. Grandparents can also help children feel secure and at ease with their world. For the child’s sake, and for your own, never stop seeing that child. Maybe they will continue to get presents for birthdays and Christmas to save because they will eventually become adults and it may not be too late to develop a relationship by then. This will be especially true if they know you’ve had them on your mind the whole time. Or open a bank account for them and regularly deposit money that can go towards their post-secondary education.
Being a grandfather can bring a lot of joy. The bond between a grandfather and a grandson is like no other. I am fortunate to have been able to be a hands-on grandmother and have a close relationship with all of my grandchildren. I consider myself very lucky, as is anyone who actively participates in the lives of her grandchildren.
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