2/27/2009

Five Styles of Grandparenting

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Five styles of grandparenting.

6 comments:

sumpteretc said...

I would say my grandparents fall into the "ghost" category. I suppose they might be "sages," but in, at least one case, I wouldn't much value the advice they would give. In most situations, I would imagine that the grandparents' role is negotiated between them and the parents, with alterations based on circumstances such as distance, etc. Because there are so many more dynamics in a grandparenting situation than in parenting, I'm not sure what the church has to say to grandparents, other than to those who are primary caregivers or "acting parents," in which case grandparents might be absorbed into existing parenting classes, and so on.

Sharlyn said...

What a great column. I am not a parent or grandparent so my comments relate to my own grandparents and how I see my parents grandparenting my nieces and nephews.
I was blessed to have two sets of grandparents who were devout, authentic Christians. They took/take their roles very seriously. They were approachable and would play with us. They were sages in that they pray for us daily and are there for advice. Both sets avoided discipline situations as much as possible and deferred this to my parents. BUT, if needed they would step to the plate and give the needed correction.
They were supportive but there was no question that parenting was our parent's responsibility.
However, all of their grandchildren would say that they have had the most profound impact on our lives of anyone other than our parents.
I don't know how these boundaries were set but there was rarely ever conflict about it.
I would love to see the church encourage grandparents to take their roles seriously. We gained so much knowledge and confidence through our grandparents. They spent a LOT of time with us. One set would stop everything and do whatever we wanted to do. The other set just invited us to join them in whatever they were doing and made us welcome. Both were effective in passing on values, traditions, beliefs, principles. Just seeing how they responded in situations, worshiping with them, sharing their devotional times. It all had an impact. I believe aunts and uncles have similar opportunities.

Pastor Al said...

Wow...
Not sure if there are not more choices out there. Must disclose that I am a grandparent...trust you are also Keith. Are you looking for pointers?

First, grandparents are a lot younger...like still within a career mode. I'm sixty...taking a masters program on-line...and developing a ten year plan. My situation is not all that uncommon. I took my oldest grand daughter to Indiana Wesleyan University to check out the undergrad program...while I completed a short residency for the masters. We compared notes at the end of our stay.

Second, I am seeing a significant number of grandparents as primary care givers for their grand children. In some ways this is sad. However, I thank God for the grandparents who can maintain the pace one more time.

Good to see Chris Sumpter posting. He keeps me young...from a missionary point of view.

My point is...if you have to grandparent...grandparent with style!

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I have found that grandparenting these days takes creativity, as does parenting. Many do not live close to extended family and many also don't have intact families in the first place, which leads to complex issues concerning interaction across broken relationships, distance, and the normal conflice that comes with "life".

I know I possibly come across as a know it all, but I have thought a lot about this subject, as well as experienced some of the complexities just described, and am a grandparent myself. So, I find it difficult to defend a 'one size fits all" educational model.

I read somewhere where grandparenting was another stage in moral development that was labeled "generativity", I believe...
Generativity is the active understanding that grandparenting is passing on the "torch of life", in memory and mores. Even though I believe this is an important aspect of grandparenting, sometimes there are other pressing issues to consider.

I had started out keeping my grandchildren while my daughter worked, I have found that I was keeping them sometimes longer in the week than their own parents did, due to the distance between our homes. Because of this factor, and the fact that our grandson is facing some developmental challenges and needs some extra help to develop, and our grand-daughter is a social butterfly whose wings, as well as intellect need nourishing, and the fact that my daughter and son-in-law work different shifts and rarely had time together, were tired, stressed, and too busy to "have a life"...we decided to put the children in a school for 3 days during the week in the city in which they live...They have just started to school this past week, but already, I think my daughter is less tired and stressed and the children seem to be adjusting and enjoying their school. We will see how it meets some of our other concerns.

In saying all of this, I find that whenever there is an expectation of "church", friends, and/or family that is standardized in child-rearing or grandparenting, there will always be a sense of failure, superiority or frustration because of how that standard is met. These "standards" are not "normal" these days, as life progresses or changes and past standards hinder fruitful discussion on the concerns of today. That is, if one wants to really address what is really happening and not try to change the world to a prescribed standard, that has outgrown its usefulness.

Divorce is one social problem that must be met in real world solutions, instead of prescribed religious "ideals". As has always been the case for humankind, parents and grandparents need all the support they can get, and labeling sometimes hinders real communication, because of the assumptions of these "judgments"....

Dave Ward said...

Fascinating you wrote on this this week. Last night I realized my distance from all of my grandparents. Holly and I lay in bed and talked for a while about it. My grandparents were distant ghosts even the one who lived in my own house for ten years. My granddad has moved into the role of a modified sage since I turned 25. But I don't go to him for advice. When we talk...every few years...he just offers it. That's fine. I love him.

I had an aching longing when I was younger for a Grandparent more the mix between a playmate and sage. I don't want a childish grandparent who acts like my "buddy". But I want their presence and companionship. Often relational distance diminished the desire to learn from them. For me mentoring and relationship go somewhat hand in hand. But I want to want their thoughts.

So there is the type I hope to be. Playful Sage...or Wise companion. At least right now. I want to be present in the life of my grandchildren as a playful but not childish or pushover presence. But I also want to live in such a way they want to ask for my advice, not just receive it from me like it or not.

At least that's my thought today.

And you Keith?? :) Or is this part of the decision process?

Granddad #1 said...

This column relates to your column two weeks before on the "Role of pastor's wife."

The best role for grandparents is that role the grandparent wishes to have--no one else should perscribe a role any more then a church should assign a role to the pastor's wife.