Is it Parenting or Grandparenting?

What joy, what mirth, what overflowing emotion a grandparent feels when he/she perceives before him/her the next generation – a gene of their very own child sprouting tenderly and yet so firmly before their very eyes. It makes them believe that life, even after completing their household responsibilities can be beautiful! It is another opportunity for them to re-live parenthood albeit with less stress and lesser worries.

No parenting is complete without the presence of grandparents. I can vouch for this because I have been on both sides of the fence. Not only have I been deprived of the affection and advice that grandparents unconditionally give to their grandchildren, I have also seen my son’s grandparents embrace my son with all the emotions that they have stored just for their grandchild.

My grandparents were no longer around (alive) when I arrived on the horizon! So, I have had no personal interaction with my grandparents due to a late entry of mine. When my son arrived I saw to it that he got what I did not get. The Almighty had been kind enough to co-incide my son’s birth with the presence of his grandparents. I got to see a whole new side of my parents that had been hidden from me as long as I had not become a parent. The moment I placed my child in the arms of my parents, a new world had suddenly arisen in our household. Handling a new responsibility can be strenuous and intriguing for a new mother. With a parent’s presence in the house, the task becomes not only easier but also a pleasure.

But then, as one grows older as a parent, through trial and error one acknowledges and realizes situations and rules that are good for one’s child. One realizes that certain age-old methods of child rearing remain the same but demands of everyday life do change. And with this change comes conflict in rearing methods. ‘Spare the rod and spoil the child’ did hold true once upon a time but the same rule cannot be applied in its entirety with today’s children. Yesterday, one could get away blabbering certain facts to children. Today, with an overdose of information available everywhere one cannot be careless and casual.

It is ironical that the very parents who felt that freedom was to be restricted for their children are now more broadminded and less strict when it comes to their grandchildren. Maybe, experience has taught them so and they are only putting their learnt lessons into action with their grandchildren, something they could not do with their own children. But, as their own children watch them overrule them or reprimand them for being strict or not being too disciplined with the child, it becomes a delicate situation. If you do not listen to them, you hurt their feelings. And, if you listen to them, you feel you are not doing justice to your child or to your self.

So, which route do you follow?

What example do you set before your child?

If you express your view-point before your parent/in law, and your child happens to witness the uncomfortable interaction you send a message that your child’s grandparents are wrong. If you don’t do anything and go along with the tide to maintain harmony, you squirm within and your child could get the impression that Mummy and Daddy don’t know much, so let’s not listen to them. Where there is no ego hassle it becomes a war zone of conflicting emotions. And the poor child gets confused amidst the varied advices, suggestions and orders.

While grandparents need to be re-assured that their place in a home can never be usurped by anyone, they also need to understand that for a child, his/her parents come first like it did for his parents and their parents before that. That right cannot be diminished or deprived by anyone.

On the same note, parents need to understand that grandparents have a bounty of experience with them that is a source of great encouragement and support for any parent.

Children need parents and grandparents to make their life complete.

Shail Raghuvanshi is a freelance journalist, content writer, editor, book reviewer and poet. She has 15 years of writing experience in newspaper, magazine, radio and television. She has worked as a Spoken English Teacher too. She runs a blog for writers called Write Space  and blogs at her personal blog Muse N’ Motivation. A daughter, wife, mother and friend, she believes that there is no situation that can’t be made better. Faith, Friendship and Family are what makes her life complete.

  • Well said, Shail! A child needs both the parents and the grandparents. As for handling that delicate situation, which is indeed very delicate… After a few initial ‘mishaps’, we had a chat ( my parents, husband and me) and it was decided that for all of us, the child’s welfare is priority, so if at any point, any one of us is teaching/explaining or even reprimanding the child, the other 3 will not intervene. If any one of us does not like something, the same would be shared, but not in front of the child. Mixed signals definitely confuses the child!

    • Hi Shilpa,

      So nice of you to share. Yes, the situation is indeed delicate and sometimes, inspite of all precautions the conflicts do tend to spill over and then, the child is perturbed, shaken, confused. Respect for parents, affection for grandparents and vice versa cannot be compromised, don’t you think so?

  • Yep, children need parents and grandparents for a wholesome experience in life!

    • Hi Shana,

      Agreed. The combined presence of parents AND grandparents makes a child’s life complete. Sadly, in today’s busy world, not all children get it…

  • T A Ramesh

    When I am reading your nice article above my mind turns to a poem I have written long ago! Here is the link to read it please: http://www.aparnaonline.com/rameshwedding.html

    • Hello Ramesh.

      Glad you liked the article. Will definitely read your poem and get back to you.

  • My mother had one basic tenet that while a grandparent has all the right to love and pamper the grandchild, the disciplining should be left to the parents and hence never has the right to shout at the child.

    • Hi Vimala,

      Absolutely right. Your mother knew the rules. See how nice and balanced you have turned out to be.

  • Varalekshmy Raghavan

    It’s rather difficult situation- to tell the elders to restrain from spoiling their grand child. But parents know best. Grand parents and parents to discuss in private do that the child respects all.

    • Hi Varalekshmy,

      Yes, Right you are. Grandparents are at such a vulnerable stage in life that they can be hurt just like the children. So, the parent has to be careful and sensitively handle the situation for the benefit of the child and the grandparent.

  • True , just imagine how many years of experience is there in parents and grandparents ..

    I have been blessed my grandparents spoilt me rotten but They also taught me what was right and wrong

    • Hi Bikram,

      Nice to see you here. And glad to know that your grandparents were balanced in their pampering and showing the right path.
      The experience that they have cannot be underestimated and yet, the parents need to do justice to their parenting roles too.

  • Brinda

    Hi Shail
    Wish you a very happy New Year. As usual, you have touched on a very interesting and sensitive topic. When I grew up, my grandparents were in Kerala so we visited them only during the summer vacation. My grandparents spoilt us a little bit but when it came to disciplining us, they would always let our parents do that. Now, with my sons though, my in laws are no more and the only grand parent they have is my mom. So when ever she is visiting us (usually about 6 weeks) she gets to spoil them but I always tell my kids that being with grandma is like vacation. So enjoy when it lasts. They still have to follow the rules but get some time to relax. I will certainly say that it is a blessing to watch them bond.

    • Hi Brinda,

      Wishing you and your family a very happy new year too.
      Yes indeed, it is a pleasure to see our children bond with our parents. But sometimes, in families where grandparents are living with them or are visited frequently, conflicts do creep in regarding the upbringing of the child and that is when the delicate line of control has to be followed.
      Lovely to have you sharing…..

  • Quite thought provoking post. A friend told me about an incident where grand parents are not being allowed to meet grand children, as they may ‘spoil’ them. I came to know about another instance where grand parents were not allowed to visit their house as they are not ‘modern’ and their visit will affect their image. Really shocking to know these trends….

    Hari

    • Hello Hari,

      I know. This is atrocious. How can people behave this way? After all, these very people will grow old one day. And the children observe all this. So, what example is being set for them? Sad…..

  • A product of joint family, I am all for grand parents, what if they indulge the kids a bit? Challenge is today kids are not keen to meet the grands beyond a certain age.

    • Hi Desi Traveler,

      You are fortunate being a product of a joint family. I wasn’t, so I lost out on a lot of that lovely stuff of memories and bonding that take place in a joint family. My husband on the other side was a product of a large family including grandparents and till date talks lovingly about it all.

      I do agree. Children of today seem to be happy in their own world. Is it a result of the current trends in society or have we as parents failed somewhere?

      Thanks for sharing Desi Traveler.

  • Sandhya Sanal Kumar

    Very true.

  • Murlidhar Srivastava

    well written…so true

  • Swati Nitin Gupta

    Hi Shail

    Felt like I was reading my situation. In my family — both father and mother in law have fragile egos that get hurts with a slightest gesture of disobedience. As a mother I get worried how do I make my son realise that his parents come first and foremost than any grandparent be it — Daadu-daadi or Naanu-naani, Sometimes I feel he understands sometimes I am at loggerheads.