Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coffee Talk Thursday: Today's Grandparents

Coffee Talk Thursday

A few years ago, I read an article in Parents' magazine about grandparenting today. While there are certainly exceptions, the article said that baby boomers who become grandparents are, by and large, so busy with their own lives that they're not the doting grandparent of days gone by. Plus, with families no longer living in the same city as their parents, the face of grandparenting has changed dramatically from what it was years ago when extended families lived near each other.
In my own life, I see how this is true.  One grandparent in our family takes grandparenting seriously, making the role of grandparent a priority. This grandparent is committed to seeing the grandchildren regularly and building a strong relationship with the grandsons. Another grandparent would like to visit more frequently but lacks the finances for the cross-country trip. Still, this grandparent makes an effort to build a close relationship with the grandchildren through phone calls and thoughtful gestures (such as small gifts and cards in the mail).  Other grandparents certainly love their grandchildren but are so busy with their own lives and interests that building a tight bond with the grandkids just does not seem to have the same priority that other activities claim in their lives.
As a parent, this saddens me. I wish grandparents would realize what a special role, and a life-changing influence, they could have in their grandchildrens' lives. Although I took it for granted at the time, I lived in the same area as both sets of my grandparents when I was growing up; my life was richer for seeing my grandparents weekly and getting to know them well. I want this for my kids as well, but you can't force someone to embrace something to a greater degree than what one desires.
I don't know how to encourage grandparents to treasure their role as grandparent more than they currently may. Jesus said "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matthew 6:21). I think it boils down to a heart issue: how important is it to them? Yet, practically speaking, in the meantime, I think sometimes the grandparent-grandchild relationship may have to be initiated by the parents through regular calls and sending of letters. I guess we could be better about that.
Since it's Coffee Talk Thursday, what do you think? What is your experience of grandparenting today? How do you think we could encourage strong relationships between our children and their grandparents, if the grandparents don't seem to make it the priority we would hope they would?


  1. My parents, my sons' grandparents, live far away. They visit about twice a year (once every six months) for a long weekend (friday to monday). They have the finances to visit, but would usually rather spend their trips going on vacations. They were recently out for a visit and at the end were telling me how they think they must just be "fanatical" grandparents because they enjoy being with them and seeing them so much. It was a little weird to listen to that because in my head I'm thinking you only see them twice a yes, I think things really have changed.

  2. I find this to be very true. My parents see my children maybe once a year (sometimes less) and they're both within five hours of us. This is a painful issue for me, as it almost makes me feel rejected myself. We would visit them more often, but they don't have room in their homes for a family of seven to descend on them and we can't afford hotel stays. My inlaws are within two miles and we see them at least once a month, usually more. I am thankful my children will know them well and have memories.

    I realize I can't change my parents' hearts. They were this way toward me, for the most part, growing up because of the reasons in your post. Until they have the true love of Christ in their hearts they cannot love others the way God intended.

  3. My children have 4 sets of grandparents and 3 sets of great grandparents. On set of Grandparents doesn't really make an effort (and in fact is quite critical of our parenting) so we don't connect much with them. The other 3 sets and 1 set of greats are quite good at keeping in touch and having special memory making times when we visit.

  4. When I was younger I only saw my grandparents a couple of times a year because they lived in another state. I have been blessed to be able to care for my grandchildren when their mother is at work. I was a stay-at-home mom of three, with my youngest still in high school, when my oldest child got married and I became a grandmother. It just seemed natural that I would care for her child because we didn't want to place her in daycare and my daughter really couldn't afford it anyway. She has had four children so I have been caring for them for almost 10 years. Three of them are in school so it's easier now. I have at times complained about how the children tire me out. I don't know how I managed it when I was caring for a 5 year old, 2 year old twins, and a newborn when they were younger. But, after all these years, I can't imagine what it would be like if we lived far away from each other and I didn't see their sweet little faces almost every day. The youngest will be starting school in the fall. When I think about it I get a little sad but will still be caring for them on school breaks and at times when their Mom and Dad need a night out.

  5. My parents are about an hour away so we go visit them a couple times a month. This week is winter break, so we are going tomorrow and they will keep my 5 yr old Kindergartener until Wednesday, then we will meet halfway at a restaurant and swap kids for the 11 yr old in Grade 6. I am the oldest of 4 kids, but didn't have my kids till I was 37 and 42 so they are the youngest grandkids... my brother (who is 15 months younger than I) will be a grandpa in March or April ~ and I am running around after a Kindergarten kid. I think it's funny. My parents prefer to take one at a time as they are in their Seventies and less fighting that way and they can gear activities to the proper age group.

    My ex-husband's adoptive mother and her husband try very hard to be good grandparents. She tries to send a "Sunday" letter every week, on various topics (they live in Scotland and we live in Canada) and they came last summer and took the kids for 5 days on a wee holiday. It is a bit weird as their own Dad isn't interested in taking them (and didn't go on the trip with his parents). So I try to photocopy report cards, blog about my son's homeschool stuff so they can see it etc.

    I don't imagine I'll be a grandma for a very long time... although my new husband (kids stepdad) is 8 yrs older than I and totally gray haired so we have been asked if "these are your grandchildren." He laughed and took it in stride and said, "No, she just started late!!"

    Denise in Saskatchewan

  6. My parents live 3 hrs away and see us for about a day once every month or two. Right now, the kids are at an age that they have tremendous energy, so the timeframe works best for the granparents, who aren't used to quite so much energy! But I wish they could (would choose to) take part in some of my daughter's activities as she gets older, like her school play, etc., as it does mean a lot to them.