It was obviously a bit of a surprise, but it revealed a whole new world when it comes to enjoying children as the ‘rules of engagement’ for grandchildren are very different to being a parent.
The great thing is that, as a grandparent, you tend to have more time to devote to the children than when you are balancing the pressures of everyday living as well as being a parent. It can be difficult giving attention to your daughter’s impromptu dance routine or your son’s newfound throwing skills when you are mowing the lawn or doing the ironing. But as a grandparent, you can manage the time that you spend with the grandchildren and know that you have nothing else distracting you at the same time!
I think that’s why grandchildren are so excited to see their grandparents. It’s not that they are better equipped to look after children or understand their needs more – probably quite the opposite – but it’s that grandparents have the time to listen, watch, join in and encourage when they are with their grandchildren that parents may not be able to give.
Here’s a good example. My seven-year-old granddaughter was struggling a bit with her spellings at school. Her Mum and Dad had tried to help her with books and little tests but she wasn’t getting better results with the weekly word tests. One Saturday they were out with friends and I was babysitting so we had time to play spelling games using the following week’s test words before my granddaughter went to bed and, lo and behold, she got full marks in her next spelling test.
Of course, the other big difference between parenting and grandparenting is that, when your time with them has come to an end, you are able to give the grandchildren back and get on with whatever you want to do next! That’s not to say that you want to get rid of them, but just a reminder that ultimately grandchildren have parents that are their primary carers.
So grandparenting gives you all the pleasures of having time with children that you love and they love you, but on your terms! What could be better?