Grandparenting Styles

At GoodGrandma℠, we love good grandparenting IDEAS from all sources. Richard and Linda Eyre are popular thinkers, speakers, and writers on parenting and families—and their latest efforts relate to grandparenting. I recently read an excellent article by the Eyres in the on-line edition of the Meridian Magazine entitled “Your Influence as a Grandparent is Up to You.”

In that article, the Eyres said we can choose what kind of grandparent we will be—and they identified four types of grandparenting (which I quote and paraphrase below):

  1. Disengaged Grandparenting—Attitude: I raised my kids and now it’s their turn to raise their kids; I’m done.
  2. Limited Grandparenting—Attitude: I love to see them but in limited doses and on my terms.
  3. Supportive Grandparenting—Attitude: My kids need all the help they can get with their kids, and I want to be there for them. With this approach, you become part helper, part martyr, sacrificing your own life to be at the beck and call of your adult children whenever they ‘need’ you to help with the kids.
  4. Proactive Grandparenting—Attitude: My children are responsible for their children, but I can teach these grandkids things their parents can’t and be an essential part of an organized three-generation family. I can make a real difference in my grandkids’ lives, even as I add joy to my own life and keep myself young.

If we are interested enough in being a good grandparent to read GoodGrandma, it’s obvious we don’t want to be a “disengaged” or “limited” grandparent. And I don’t think we want to be a “supportive” grandparent, as defined above. None of us wants to be a martyr, and it’s true that we raised our kids and our children are responsible for their children. Plus, we don’t have the energy we once had to raise kids full time (unless there is no other alternative).

A proactive grandparent can really make a positive difference in a child’s life. My parents (may they rest in peace), to their everlasting credit, were proactive grandparents. They did not assume responsibility for raising our children, but they were actively involved in our children’s lives. Our kids knew that Nanna and Papa loved them—a lot! Our kids had periodic sleepovers at Nanna’s and Papa’s house, where they got their favorite meals, a visit to a pond to feed the ducks, and a trip to the grocery store where they got to pick their favorite treat.  They sat on the piano bench and sang songs with Nanna. Our kids talked to Nanna and Papa on the phone. They received gifts from Nanna and Papa on their birthdays and at Christmas and little gifts on other occasions from time to time. Nanna and Papa took the grandkids to the zoo and other places of interest. They babysat the grandkids, but not on a regular basis. Our kids knew Nanna and Papa thought they were very special. They felt their grandparents’ sincere love. In sum, my parents made a real positive difference in my children’s lives as proactive grandparents.

If you are interested in more grandparenting ideas from the Eyres, Linda Eyre has written a book entitled Grandmothering, and Richard Eyre is the author of a book entitled Being a Proactive Grandfather, each of which is on sale on Amazon. 👵🏼🧡💡

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