Grandparenting: It’s Not Just About Baking Cookies and Playing Games

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Grandparenting is a topic that most people don’t think about until they are grandparents themselves. The responsibilities of a grandparent can be quite different from those of parents.

A grandma or grandpa may not have to worry about disciplining their grandchildren. But there are still many ways in which the job of being a grandparent differs from the task of raising children.

In this article, we will explore these differences and more so you can decide if becoming a grandparent is right for you!

Contents

What is Grandparenting?

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Grandparenting is a type of parenting that involves taking care of grandchildren. But typically doesn’t involve the day-to-day responsibilities of childrearing. It can take a variety of forms, from regular visits to full-time custody.

This differs from being a parent in that grandparents usually have more time to spend with their grandchildren. They may not have to worry about things like work or child discipline.

Why Grandparenting is Increasingly Common?

In the past few decades, many grandparents have been taking care of their grandchildren for reasons that include:

What Are Benefits of Grandparenting for Grandchildren

Despite these challenges, there are also many benefits of grandparents raising grandchildren. These include:

Secure and happy home life

Grandparents can provide a safe and loving environment for their grandchildren to grow up in. This can be especially true if the grandparent’s adult children have had trouble staying out of trouble or keeping steady jobs.

A sense of stability

Many grandchildren who are being raised by their grandparents have experienced a lot of instability in their lives. This can include multiple moves, changing schools often, or living with different family members. Having a stable home life with the same set of parents can be helpful for them.

More one-on-one time

Grandparents often have more time to spend with their grandchildren than the child’s parents do. This can give the child a lot of individual attention and love.

Opportunity to learn about their cultural heritage

If one or both of the grandparents are from a different culture, this can be a great opportunity for the grandchild to learn more about their heritage.

A chance to form a stronger bond with a grandparent

Many grandchildren who are being raised by their grandparents report having a stronger bond with that grandparent than they do with their other grandparents. This can be because the child is living with them full-time and they get to spend a lot of time together.

What Are Benefits Of Grandparenting For Grandparents

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There are also benefits for grandparents who take on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. These include:

Having regular access to grandchildren

Grandparents can develop a close relationship with their grandkids, especially if they don’t live near each other. This is especially true when parents have difficulty time visiting regularly or they aren’t in contact at all.

Having a purpose

Grandparents who have been lonely or bored can find meaning in their life by taking care of grandchildren. This is especially true when they are retired and no longer working.

Increased opportunities for socialization with other adults

When grandparents live alone, they may feel isolated from the rest of society without children around to talk to. Taking on a grandparenting role can help them meet other adults and socialize more often with people their age.

Increased opportunities for physical activity

Taking care of grandchildren can be physically demanding, especially if they have health issues that require frequent doctor’s visits or hospital stays. This helps grandparents stay active and healthy as well.

Increased opportunities for mental stimulation

Studies show that older adults who are exposed to new experiences and stimuli tend to develop stronger cognitive functions. Taking care of grandchildren can increase their level of exposure, which keeps their minds sharp over time. This is especially true when they live far away from other family members or friends with children.

What Are Challenges of Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Many challenges come with being a grandparent raising grandchildren. Some of these include:

Financial instability

Grandparents may have to take on extra financial responsibilities to provide for their grandchildren. This can be difficult if they are already retired or on a fixed income.

Lack of experience

Many grandparents don’t have parenting experience. They may not know how to discipline children or handle typical child-related problems like tantrums.

Lack of time

Taking care of grandchildren can take a lot of time and energy. Especially if the grandparent is also caring for their spouse who requires assistance due to illness or age.

Social isolation

Grandparents raising grandchildren can often feel isolated from their friends and family. This is especially true if they live far away from other relatives who could help out.

Lack of sleep

When you add a child into the mix, there’s always someone to watch and take care of. This can make it even more difficult for grandparents to get enough sleep.

Health concerns, both for themselves and their grandchildren

Problems like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure are more common among older adults. Taking care of young children can also be physically demanding.

Loss of freedom and flexibility in their schedule

This is especially true for grandparents who are retired. They may not be able to take spontaneous vacations or do things at their convenience anymore.

What Are Challenges Of Grandchildren Being Raised By Grandparents?

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The challenges faced by children being raised by their grandparents are often different from those of kids who live with their parents.

Some common struggles for these grandchildren include:

Difficulty making friends

Kids may not know other children and adults in the area because they don’t spend time outside as most other kids do. This can make it harder to cultivate friendships.

Regression in development

Grandchildren who live with their grandparents may not be exposed to the same level of stimulation and activities as they would living in a home. This can lead them to act younger than their age or have trouble learning new things.

Anger, tension, withdrawal

Some children may feel angry at being separated from friends and family members because of their parents’ situation.

Lack of trust in grandparents

If a child’s relationship with his or her parents is strained, they may have trouble trusting and confiding in their grandparents as well. But this can depend on the type of custody arrangement being used by the family.

Lack of consistency

Grandparents may not be able to enforce rules and routines as strictly as a parent would. This can lead to children feeling confused or insecure.

Lack of support and guidance

Grandparents may not know how to offer advice for school, social issues like bullying, or other common problems children deal with. They also might be less likely than parents to give praise or encouragement when it’s needed.

Emotional and behavioral problems

Some grandchildren may act out if they’re struggling with the change in their family dynamics. They may also experience depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues.

Some Drawbacks of Grandparenting

For Grandparents

While there are many benefits to grandparenting, it can also come with its downsides. Some of the challenges that grandparents may face include:

  • Financial burdens if they have to pay for extra childcare costs
  • Social isolation from friends who don’t understand their new role in life
  • The strain on their relationship with their children if there is a lot of competition for the grandchildren’s time
  • Lack of sleep from taking care of young children at night
  • In some cases, grandparents may feel like they are doing too much or too little in terms of parenting. They may also feel overwhelmed by the responsibility.

For Grandchildren

Some of the challenges faced by grandchildren being raised by their grandparents include:

  • Feeling abandoned or displaced from not living with parents
  • Having to conform to a different way of life than they are used to
  • Lack of consistent rules and discipline that is provided by both parents equally

Tips for Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

If you’re thinking about becoming a grandparent, some things can make the transition easier:

Set Boundaries

Remember that you are still your person, not just a grandparent. Set boundaries with your child so that you have time to do the things that are important to you. Create a schedule that works for both you and your grandchildren. This will help avoid any potential conflict between you two.

Maintain Your Own Life

Just because you’re a grandparent doesn’t mean that your life is over. Continue to do the things that make you happy and fulfilled outside of being a grandparent. This will help create a positive relationship with your grandchildren.

Be Flexible

Accept that things won’t always go according to plan and be prepared to change your plans on a dime. So, be flexible and adaptable as you take on the role of grandparenting. If things don’t go as planned, it’s okay! You may find yourself doing something completely different than what was expected so be prepared for anything.

Bake Cookies and Play Games

One of the great things about being a grandparent is that you get to do all the fun things with your grandchildren. Bake cookies, play games, go for walks and just have fun together. It’s a great way to bond and create memories.

Be Patient with Yourself

It can be challenging to try to deal with all the different responsibilities of being a grandparent. Give yourself some grace if something doesn’t go as planned or takes longer than expected.

Open Communication

Have an open line of communication with your adult child so they know what is going on in their children’s lives. This will allow them to be more relaxed when they are not around.

Be a Role Model /Guiding Light

Show your grandchildren how much you care about them by spending time with them and doing things together. This will teach them important values such as love, respect, responsibility, and kindness.

Be Available for Your Grandchildren’s Parents

Let the parents of your grandchildren know that they can count on you to be available if they need to take a night off or get some extra help. However, you don’t have to be available out of obligation.

What Are Overwhelming Grandparenting Situations

It is not uncommon for some grandparents raising grandchildren to feel overwhelmed by their new responsibilities. Some issues that may lead grandparents to feel this way include:

  • The grandchild has behavioral or emotional problems
  • They are taking care of more than one grandchild
  • The grandchildren live far away from them and they have difficulty traveling
  • They are not in good health and can no longer take care of themselves

What To Do When Grandparenting Becomes Overwhelming

Here are some tips for grandparents who feel overwhelmed:

Take Care Of Yourself

Take care of yourself first. You can’t take care of your grandchildren if you’re not feeling well and exhausted from lack of sleep, eating the right foods, or exercising regularly.

Talk It Out

Talk with a friend or family member about your feelings. If you’re having trouble balancing the demands of being a grandparent and taking care of yourself, try talking it out with someone who can help support you during this difficult time.

Stay Positive

Stay positive about parenting responsibilities by looking at them as a new challenge in life instead of focusing on the negatives.

Spend Time With Your Spouse or Friend

Spend time with your spouse or friend to have some adult conversation and support each other through this new parenting chapter of your life together.

Join Support Group

Join a support group for grandparents raising grandchildren. This can help you connect with others who are going through the same thing.

Get Organized

Get organized. Make a list of things that need to be done and set priorities. Be reasonable!

Seek Help

Ask for help when you need it. There is no shame in admitting that you can’t do everything. Many different organizations exist to provide grandparents raising their grandchildren with information and advice on how best to do this.

When Grandparenting Becomes a Duty of the Grandparents

In some cases, grandparents may feel like they have no choice but to take on grandparenting responsibilities. For example:

  • Grandchildren may need to be cared for while their parents are deployed overseas in military service
  • Children’s parents might not want them around due to addiction or other issues
  • The parents may be deceased or unable to care for their children for some other reason

In these situations, grandparents need to remember that they are not obligated to take on this role. They should only do so if they feel emotionally and physically capable of doing so.

Is Raising Grandchildren a Duty of Grandparents?

The answer to this question is ultimately up to the individual grandparents. Some may feel like they must take care of their grandchildren. While others may not feel as obligated. It is important to discuss expectations with your adult child before taking on the role of grandparenting.

Conclusion

Grandparents are an invaluable resource for children who need additional care while their parents work or attend school. But it is important to set boundaries and respect the grandparents’ needs too.

Many people assume that grandparenting is all about playing games, baking cookies, and having fun with grandchildren. However, it can also be a challenge for both grandparents and their grandchildren when one or more parents are not present in their lives.

Albeit, Grandparenting can be a very rewarding experience. But it can also come with its challenges. If you are a grandparent raising your grandchildren and need some support or advice, there is help available for you.

A Word From Mantra Care

Your mental health — your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.

At Mantra Care, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depressionanxietystressrelationshipOCDLGBTQ, and PTSD. You can take our mental health test. You can also book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.

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