Grandparents, our superheroes without capes…

The family is a complex social unit, depending on the cultural, social and political context, it can take different forms, from single-parent families, homo-parental families, separated parents, adoptive, composite... Within each of the families, there are different elements that affect the situation and functioning, such as the so-called extended family, which is that part of the family outside the family nucleus, but which provides very important support in the daily routines of the family. A very important element of many family dynamics enters this extended family: grandparents.

Times have changed, nowadays both parents in most cases work and the conciliation... Oh the conciliation! Logistics at home with children is a real challenge and the role of grandparents becomes very important.

This role that grandparents have within families is not only about solving the most complicated moments of the day, such as picking up the children from school or having them spend a couple of hours in the afternoon while the parents finish their workday, The role of grandparents goes further. The bond that is generated between the child and the grandparents is unique and provides very rich and essential values ​​for the child.

What types of grandparents exist?

Grandparents provide their own parenting style with children, which on many occasions needs to be agreed upon with the parents in order to avoid possible conflicts in the family environment. Neugarten and Weinstein conducted a study in which they classified the types of grandparents based on their parenting style. Here is a summary of their classification:

  • formal grandparents: They are those grandparents who have a more traditional behavior, with ideas that are more similar to their time than to the one we live in today. Grandparents with more rigid behaviors
  • funny grandparents: They are characterized by having a more informal style, they are usually more relaxed and their behavior with children is much more forgiving.
  • distant grandparents: those who are on the margins of the family environment, who barely see their grandchildren and who do not actively participate in raising children
  • Historical memory grandparents: They are a reserve of wisdom, they keep and share all the family history and its roots
  • surrogate grandparents: those grandparents who are always there when they are needed, who assume responsibility, education and care of the children

Do you recognize your parents/in-laws in any of these classifications? We are sure that yes, or even that you find that they are within several types.

In our years of experience in the different Happy Way schools, we can say that in most of the parenting consultations that we carry out with families, the topic of grandparents and the extended family is usually present in the conversations. That is why we believe it is necessary to share here the decalogue of the good grandfather:

  • Grandparents should never take on the role of parents.
  • Grandparents also need to set boundaries with grandchildren, especially if their role in raising them is significant.
  • Grandparents have to know and respect the rules that parents impose (although sometimes, but rarely, it is allowed to break them).
  • Grandparents cannot forget about themselves and continue maintaining their hobbies and interests.
  • Grandparents have to be objective, even if it is sometimes complicated.
  • Grandparents never have to compete with each other.
  • Grandparents have to try not to be materialistic, the best gift is the time you share with your grandchildren.
  • Grandparents are a reference of wisdom for their grandchildren, it is important that your comments are constructive.
  • It is important for grandparents to be impartial and not take a position in conflicts that may arise between parents and children.
  • Really good grandparents are the ones who spend time playing with their grandchildren.

Finally: thank you grandparents, for being present in any way in our lives, for making our lives a little easier and for giving so much love and tenderness to our little ones!

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