Grandfathers are different from grandmothers, according to conventional wisdom. Grandmothers dote; grandfathers complain. Grandmothers nurture; grandfathers instruct. Grandmothers hand out compliments and cookies. Grandfathers hand out quarters and advice.
Grandmothers hand out compliments and cookies. Grandfathers hand out quarters and advice.
As usual, conventional wisdom contains some truth. Grandfathers and grandmothers often have different priorities and grandparenting styles, but three points are worth pondering. First, the differing roles played by grandfathers and grandmothers mean more diversity and thus extra value for grandchildren. Second, the emergence of the nurturing father means that nurturing grandfathers can’t be far behind, especially considering that grandparenting is by its very nature more laid-back than parenting. Third, generalizations about gender are inherently tricky, as humans display much behavior that is not gender typical. Still, looking at typical patterns can be instructive. While many grandmothers remark that with their grandchildren, they gain the ability to live in the moment, grandfathers have a different experience. Often when they look at their grandchildren, they focus on what lies in their future.
Often when they look at their grandfathers, they focus on what lies in their future.
The prospect of raising grandchildren is bound to trigger a range of emotions. Positive emotions, like the love you feel for your grandchildren, the joy in seeing them learn and grow, and relief at giving them a stable environment, are easy to acknowledge. It’s more difficult to admit to feelings such as resentment, guilt, or fear.
The prospect of raising grandchildren is bound to trigger a range of emotions.
It’s important to acknowledge and accept what you’re feeling, both positive and negative. Don’t beat yourself up over your doubts and misgivings. It’s only natural to feel some ambivalence about childrearing at a time when you expected your responsibilities to be dwindling. These feelings don’t mean that you don’t love your grandchildren.
When you’re preoccupied with the daily demands of raising grandkids, it’s easy to let your own needs fall by the wayside. But taking care of yourself is a necessity, not a luxury. You can’t be a good caretaker when you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally depleted. In order to keep up with your grandkids, you need to be calm, centered, and focused. Looking after your own mental and physical health is how you get there.
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