I’ve seen it. Perhaps you’ve seen it, too, The proud grandparents. Happy that they made it far enough to have grandchildren. A reward for keeping their own children alive long enough? A chance to relax and not feel so responsible for how a younger generation turns out?
Whatever it is, grandparents get the opportunity to help raise children a second time around. Except the pressure is off. This time, it’s their children’s children. Now grandparents get to have fun in ways that they didn’t get to while they raised their children.
Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe having grandchildren is how grandparents get a chance to relive their own childhoods. Better than with their own children.
“Grandparents seem to have a much easier time loving their grandchildren — or at least demonstrating love to them — than they ever did their own children.” – Leon F. Seltzer, Ph.D.
Occasionally, I’ve seen people that seem to enjoy being grandparents more than they ever enjoyed being parents. The more I’ve looked into why that is, the more it makes sense.
Come with me as I explore why being a grandparent can be more fun than being a parent.
How Your Grandchildren Turn Out Isn’t Your Responsibility
With your children, it was and is your responsibility for how they turn out. And they are your responsibility for the rest of your life. No matter how independent and responsible they become.
As a parent, you can’t help but make mistakes. It’s unavoidable. You’ll make mistakes that your parents made. You’ll make your own mistakes, too. And your children might blame you — even for things that weren’t your fault — for the rest of their lives.
You’ll be away a lot from your children as you take care of your various responsibilities, including your job. Especially your job. You can’t always be there for your children, and they might not understand that. They might hate you for it. Even though you’re doing these various things for their benefit. They might not understand until they themselves are adults. And sometimes, it takes having children of their own for them to see the sacrifices that you’ve made and to appreciate you.
Parenthood can sound like such a trap. It has its rewards, too, of course. I’ve heard of parents being quite happy about having children. Including my mom. And I’ve heard of children being accepting, forgiving, and loving toward their parents. Including me.
In a lot of ways, I’ve noticed, it’s quite the opposite with being a grandparent than it is with being a parent.
Unlike with your children, how your grandchildren turn out isn’t your responsibility. You can relax. There isn’t as much at stake. Your children get to bear the responsibility this time. And oh, what a relief that can be.
Being a Grandparent Is a Part-Time Job
Since your grandchildren are your children’s responsibility, you don’t have to be with your grandchildren all the time. Parenting is a full-time job. Being a grandparent is a part-time job. You get time off.
You get rewarded for all the work you put in for being a parent. This time around, it’s easier. It’s weird how that works.
You’re older now, and there are various advantages that come with that. You’ve reached a greater measure of maturity. You might be more emotionally stable and financially stable. You might be better able to express yourself and to show your love.
You might even be retired now. You might have more time available for your grandchildren than you did for your children when your children were growing up. These are factors that would have come in handy when you were raising your children. And if those factors had lined up back then, you might have had a healthier relationship with your children.
Your life and their lives could have been smoother. But it didn’t work out that way.
No wonder it can seem like a relief when it comes time to take care of your grandchildren. No full time job this time. You can babysit them. And they might even stay overnight at your place from time to time. But you get to give them back to their parents, your children. You get to go back to your own life.
And there’s even more good news…
You Don’t Have to Discipline Your Grandchildren
With your grandchildren, you don’t have to be the bad guy in their eyes. You don’t have to discipline them. That’s their parents’ job.
Imagine that. You get to be a hero to your grandchildren without any of the downside. You can spoil them. Because that’s your job.
If your grandchildren are misbehaving, you simply give them back to their parents. Simple. Easy. Done.
Being with your grandchildren can be like a special event every time. Typically, you only get to see them on their best behavior. Of course, it’s more fun being with them when they’re well-behaved and in a good mood.
You Simply Get to Have Fun with Your Grandchildren
And that brings us to the final point. You simply get to have fun with your grandchildren.
You are their champion of joy and amazement. The bringer of sweets and hugs. The provider of outings and play times. You are a highlight of your grandchildren’s lives. They get to look forward to spending time with you.
Being with you gives them a welcome break from their normal, every day lives. They get to experience the familiarity of fun with you. They want to enjoy themselves. And you help to give them that outlet. Perhaps a lot better than their own parents can.
You’re not limited with what needs to be done. You don’t have to help your grandchildren with their homework. You don’t have to make sure that they get to bed on time or that they get up early enough. You don’t have to make sure that they comply with certain nutritional requirements. Other than to keep them away from what they’re allergic to.
You can let your grandchildren stay up later and sleep in. You can spoil them with junk food and snacks. You can treat them to whatever other enjoyments of life that you can think of. Sometimes, the only limit is your imagination. You and your grandchildren get to play.
At times, raising your children was a chore. And now that you have grandchildren, you get to have fun.
So, go ahead. Enjoy the time that you have with your children and with your grandchildren. You’ve earned it.
As I did research for this post, I got understanding better why being a grandparent can be more fun than being a parent. It simply makes too much sense.
As a quick reminder, here are some of those reasons why:
How your grandchildren turn out isn’t your responsibility. Being a grandparent is a part-time job. You don’t have to discipline your grandchildren. And you simply get to have fun with your grandchildren.
During my research, I came across viewpoints of grandparents who stated that they don’t love their grandchildren more than their children. The love is equal yet different.
And what I shared here may not apply to those circumstances where grandparents have to raise their grandchildren as if they are their grandchildren’s parents. For whatever reasons, their children may not be available to do the parenting. So, in those cases, the grandparents have to step in and take over.
For my own life, I’ve stated that it was both my mom and my grandma who raised me. I give them both credit for that.
What has your experience been like? You can share from any number of perspectives: as a child, as a grandchild, as a parent, as a grandparent. I’d like to hear from you.
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Until next time,