Have you ever considered what type of grandparent you are?
According to Susan Krause Ph.D. there are five types of grandparents. Dr. Krause wrote in a recent article for Psychology Today that science doesn’t fully understand the impact that grandparents have on their grandchildren.
Historically, researchers have overlooked, if not completely dismissed, grandparents and their impact on the family. Grandmothers in particular. It wasn’t until fairly recently that researchers and anthropologists discovered that maternal grandmothers have a profound impact on the lives of their grandchildren. Even to the extent of increasing their grandchildren’s chances of survival.
Now consider this: we could very well be the luckiest generation of grandparents in history.
Unlike societies of the past, where family roles were cast, we get to choose what type of grandparent we want to become.
Dr. Krause lists the following as the types of grandparents we generally fall into. However, I don’t see why we can’t just pick the type of grandparents we want to be an go for it.
1. Formal grandparent: follows what are believed to be the appropriate guidelines for the grandparenting role, which includes providing occasional services and maintaining an interest in the grandchild, but not becoming overly involved.
2. Fun seeker: emphasizes the leisure aspects of the role and primarily provides entertainment for the grandchild.
3. Surrogate parent: takes over the caretaking role with the child.
4. Reservoir of family wisdom (usually a grandfather): the head of the family who dispenses advice and resources but also controls the parent generation.
5. Distant figure: has infrequent contact with the grandchildren, appearing only on holidays and special occasions.
How about breaking the mold?
Truth is, I think we should become a combination of these types of grandparents. There is a little “formal grandparent” in all of us. But who’s to define what is “overly involved”?
Then there is the “fun seeker” grandparent– sign me up. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t be someone that dispenses advice. Or is generous with our resources. If they were truly wise, they wouldn’t be controlling the parent generation.
It goes without saying that few of us would actually choose to be a surrogate parent. It’s a much greater joy to watch your children become good parents. Most of the grandparents I know who are full time caregivers, have done so out of tragic circumstances.
However, here too we are a lucky generation.
This generation of boomer grandparents are far more financially equipped than our grandparents.
We do have choices. Maybe we fall into some of these categories by circumstance or default. But, we can choose to be the type of grandparent that we want for our grandchildren.
What type of grandparent are you? More importantly, are you the type you want to be?