Have you ever wondered why grandparents sometimes wear that pained expression? Well, it might the result of being caught between a rock and a hard place. In the modern world it seems as though everyone is struggling to find where they fit in the scheme of things, and grandparents are no exception.
Could it just be that, like children, grandparents need clear boundaries to operate within? Maybe.
We have always enjoyed a good relationship with our only daughter and this has been achieved quite simply. We built a foundation of mutual trust and respect from the time she made her entrance in 1979. We simply adapted the rules when the grandchildren came along and this time our daughter and son-in-law are ‘calling the shots’. We now tow the party-line.
Some grandparents believe that certain rights and privileges come with their role and these can often fly in the face of young parents who are, themselves, in very new territory. It’s worth remembering that, while we want to make the most of our grandchildren, they are primarily the responsibility of Mum and Dad. If we are not all singing from the same song-sheet it’s bound to get confusing for the grandchildren and become an unwelcome burden for the parents.
If grandparents find it hard to play by the rules it’s probably because they harbour reservations about the way some things are handled by their own offspring. “Well we never did it like that in our day.” That’s because ‘our day’ probably bears little relation to today.
We may receive strict guidance on what we feed the little darlings. We may balk a little at television viewing thresholds. We may be left feeling a certain degree of resentment and slightly wrong-footed on occasion. But we have a lifetime of experience that surely includes those memories of when we were first starting out.
Treasure the grandchildren. Love and support their parents. They are undertaking the most difficult job in the world while we enjoy many shareholder’s benefits.
The recent BBC Four series - The Grandparent Diaries – has showcased three different sets of grandparents and relationship they have with their children and grandchildren. Sadly, there were only three programmes to enjoy but each offered a fascinating insight to the world of grandparenting.
© 2009, copyright Martin T. Hodges