Strict parent, relaxed grandparent?

I was reading a 1964 article about grandparenting styles in the library the other day and it made me wonder if my style of grandparenting is different than my style of parenting.

When my kids were younger I heard friends say their parents were much stricter with them but much more lenient and fun loving with their grandchildren.  Am I like that with my grandchildren? I think my role is to be there to support both the grandchildren and their parents, have fun with them and be an extra pair of hands when needed.  So yes, that’s a completely different role than I had with my kids.

My grandkids are still toddlers.  I don’t have to deal with discipline when I’m with them (Just keeping these busy little folks safe as they explore the world is a full-time job!).  But I don’t think I’ll be a “no curfew, rules out the window, let’s just have fun Grandma. “  If I did my kids would disown me, I bet.

I enjoy seeing behaviors broken into categories. Here’s are the five styles of grandparenting identified by Bernice Neugarten and Karol Weinstein in their 1964 article in the Journal of Marriage and the Family.

• Fun seeking—informal and playful

• Formal—traditional role for grandparents with a clear delineation between parent’s role and grandparent’s role

• Distant—fleeting and infrequent contact

• Reservoirs of Family Wisdom—the pater familias with sage advice for all

Whenever you look at categories of personalities or styles, the truth is we all combine a little bit of several categories. The most important thing for me to remember is to be myself—to be authentic—with both my children and grandchildren.

What do you think?






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2 Responses to Strict parent, relaxed grandparent?

  1. Pat says:

    Speaking as a grandchild rather than a grandparent, I think one of the more important roles they play is that because grandparents are likely past the most stressful periods of their lives, they can focus on the grandchildren for short periods of time in a way that parents, particularly, single parents struggle to focus. They can probe and listen in a rather unique way. My grandmother was truly amazing at that type of interaction. Grandparents thus become a safe person to tell anything to; this is invaluable for producing an emotionally healthy child.

  2. Judy says:

    I think one of the wonderful things about being a grandparent is the gift of time. When I was a mother, I had a job, in addition to the job of being a mom. Between working, shopping, cooking, driving kids all over town, caring for the house and garden, laundry, etc.–well, I was always pressed for time. With my grandkids, I feel like I have all the time in the world. Walking a couple of blocks to a playground might take an hour, if the little one wants to stop to inspect a lady bug or pick a weed bouquet. I don’t care; I have no agenda except to be there, and no time constraints. It’s a great gift, both to me and to the grandchild.

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