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 will not have 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 grandparent-grandchild relationship. 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 or son-in-law, there may be problems between your son and your spouse that can affect the relationship you have with your grandchildren. You may have a closer relationship with your daughter’s children than with your son’s. Or maybe location is a factor – availability can be determined based on 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 great things with them; You can hug them, read to them, bake cookies, sing together or do crafts, share a silly moment, 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 you of the good times you have shared.
The other type is grandparents who try to stay close for a long distance. This is more prevalent 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 does not influence your relationship with your child. Being a distant grandparent for a long time is a bit more difficult and there may need to be more creativity. It will be just as important to let them know how much you love them by calling regularly, sending “just because” cards or emailing them if they’re older, sending little financial surprises, and making an effort to get together when possible. Especially for special occasions like birthdays.
For those who are raising their grandchildren, the role will be completely different. It tends to become more like the role of parents with the daily concerns and responsibilities that parents face. Despite the fact that there is a 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 the father of 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 to 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: non-judgmental 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 safe and good about their world. For the child’s sake and yours, never stop looking at that child. Perhaps you will continue to get gifts for birthdays and Christmas to keep because they will eventually become adults and it may not be too late to develop a relationship at that time. This will be especially true if they know that you have had them in your thoughts the entire time. Or open a bank account for them and deposit money regularly that can go towards their postsecondary education.
Being a grandparent can bring a lot of joy. The bond between a grandparent and a grandchild is like no other. I am fortunate to have been able to be a practical grandparent and have a close relationship with all of my grandchildren. I consider myself very lucky as well as anyone who participates actively in the lives of their grandchildren.