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“Family” is the most important foundation. A family consists of mother, father, sisters, brothers and grandparents.. As time changes, the role of an individual in the family also changes. Parents become grandparents and children become parents, hence continuing the circle of life. Over the centuries, grandparent – grandchild relationship has undergone lots of vicissitudes, influencing the meaning of relationships.

During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the joint family model prevailed. A family lived along with the extended families under one roof, sharing and caring for each other, thereby strengthening the relationship. With industrialization in the 19th century, the fashion of nuclear family started prevailing, redefining this relationship.

Talking to few grandparents who had seen 3 – 4 generations and grandchildren, resulted in the critical analysis of various changes that this relationship has gone through, along with the adjustments, which grandparent and grandchildren are doing. Becoming a grandparent is an important step in adult life. Grandchildren provide a new focus for family relationships and can rekindle the kind of intimacy that might have got lost along the way – enriching lives across three generations.

Once upon a time, relationships with the extended family would make a positive contribution to children’s emotional development and sense of themselves. An independent and developing relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is invaluable for everybody. Becoming a grandparent presents an exciting opportunity to grow and change, and to experience a very special relationship. Many grandparents describe the sheer pleasure of spending time with their grandchildren without being burdened by the responsibilities of being a parent. The Role of Grandparents was varied: Ancestor, Buddy, Hero, Historian, Mentor, Nurturer, Role Model, Spiritual Guide, Student, and Teacher etc.

Today’s grandparents find themselves walking on a tightrope between supporting the children and grandchildren they love and satisfying their own well-deserved – and often long-deferred – needs and ambitions. Whether they like it or not, they are forced to make lots of adjustments just for the pleasure of their children and grandchildren. Today, this relationship seems to have been strained and lost its charm in majority of families. Some of the reasons given by the grandchildren and grandparents are:

• Geographical distance may make it hard for children to have regular and meaningful contact with their grandparents if they live a long way away in this country or in another country.
• A grandparent may be frail, with emotional and physical needs of their own.
• Either of the parents or the lone parent, may be working with little time, space or money for keeping up regular contact.
• The grandparents may be at the peak of their own careers, with little time or energy to devote to grandchildren or childcare.
• Conflict within the family or a rift between family members, may limit contact and affect how children view their grandparents.

Asked many grandparents, there was a shocking thought prevailed among them. They felt that they are treated as a source of day – care for young children today and were taken for granted. Regardless of all the humiliation that they receive from their own children and grandchildren, they take it more than a job and provide the committed care and stability that babies and young children need for their healthy emotional development. Though they try their best to satisfy their grandchildren’s needs, at times, the attitude of parents affects the relationship.

Research has shown that the degree of closeness between a grandparent and a grandchild is affected by several dimensions: affection (emotional closeness); association (frequency of contact); consensus (levels of agreement in the family); normative quality (importance placed on familial obligations); structure (geographic proximity); and function (helping behaviour).

The family is changing, and Grand-parenting is changing with it. The relationship between grandparent and grandchild is negotiated very much on a family-by-family, individual-by-individual basis. Gender, culture, proximity, divorce, age and health of a grandparent, and the grandparent’s relationships with the grandchild’s parents can all profoundly influence the grandparent/grandchild relationship. This latter factor is particularly important.

Grandparent – Grandchild relationship are important for the both of them. Grandparents act as the mirror in the outside world, act as a confidant and friend, and learn about the changing realities of life. Grandchildren view their relationship with their grandparents as important to their lives, with enjoyment, emotional ties, and obligation affecting how they define the significance of the relationship. Grandparents directly or indirectly influence their grandchildren’s lives by transmitting family values, assisting relationships, teaching specific skills etc.

Parents are a bridge between grandparents and grandchildren. They act as gatekeepers and in many ways set the tone for the relationship. Greater closeness and contact between parents and grandparents equals more closeness and contact between grandchildren and grandparents.

All set and done, relationships across generations are defined in the often-used symbol of holding hands. A grandmother may hold her little granddaughter’s hand as they cross the street. Thirty years later, it is the adult granddaughter taking her frail grandmother’s hand. But they are still holding hands. It is a relationship that has withstood the tests of age and time. It is time to rejuvenate and rekindle the emotions of that perfect picture in reality. Let’s do it now, before it gets faded away and completely lost in memories.

2 Comments

  • Jeganathan S

    Every Grand Parents likes to see and talk to their relations frequently which they can’t. We should give them good company in their old age days and make them happy.

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