We grandmas wear many different hats besides being grandma: wife, mother, daughter, sister, breadwinner, volunteer, and friend, to name a few. Have you ever thought about the many roles you play as a grandparent?
According to Arthur Kornhaber, M.D., founder of the Foundation for Grandparenting and author of The Grandparent Guide, there are 11 roles grandparents play in a family. These roles are dynamic, meaning they will change and grow as you and your grandchildren do too. You may find yourself playing many different roles throughout the years with different degrees of intensity.
Kornhaber divides the roles into 3 categories:
- practical and informative
- emotional and connected
- sentimental and spiritual.
As you read on, you may notice you’ve overlooked some aspect of grandparenting that might bring you and your grandchild more fun and learning. One thing is for certain though, at the heart of all these roles is a deep loving bond that you are building with each passing year.
We’ve all seen how today’s parents have such overcommitted lifestyles that they have very little down time to spend with their children. As grandparents, we can help fill that void and make a difference in our grandchildren’s lives by giving them our full attention and at a much slower pace.
Understanding your roles as a grandparent
We have the opportunity to give our grandchildren a broader range of knowledge, emotions, and experience than we did as parents. In addition to the more familiar roles of friend, cheerleader and babysitter, author Arthur Kornhaber identifies 11 roles as the foundation of grandparenthood.
Practical and Informative
- Mentor: This goes beyond just teaching your grandchild a subject – you are a cheerleader inspiring her imagination and her dreams, nurturing her spirit, and encouraging her intellectual growth while giving her a sense of self-worth.
- Nurturer: Your support provides an emotional and social safety net for the entire family, making your grandchildren feel safe and secure.
- Teacher: One of the most important roles is teaching what you have learned throughout your life. Know that you are the curriculum and teach effortlessly.
- Student: Your grandchild will also get a sense of empowerment and self-worth by teaching you new things and sharing a bit of his life and culture with you.
Emotional and Connected
- Ancestor: You are the link to your grandchild’s ancestors. Stories of your own grandparents and other ancestors bring them to life and make them real for your grandchildren.
- Historian: Similar to ancestor, you are the living witness to the history of your own time.
- Buddy: One of the most pleasurable relationships of your life is being a pal or confidante to your grandchild in a way that enables her to talk openly about what’s on her mind.
Sentimental and Spiritual
- Role Model: Your actions can teach your grandchild how he should behave in society, care for himself, and how he should aspire to be as a future parent and grandparent. Your influence can also help create a positive perception of older people in general.
- Hero: You may be a hero to your grandchild just because you have endured for many years or that you stepped in to rescue or help your grandchild in a time of need.
- Spiritual Guide: Your role as a spiritual guide to your grandchild can help teach her to value and achieve spiritual rewards such as love, tolerance, compassion, reverence, joy, peace, gentleness, faith and kindness.
- Wizard: You can provide a playful, imaginative alternative to your grandchild’s task-oriented daily life because you don’t have to worry about the daily discipline.
The next time you interact with your grandchild remember these roles. Think about which ones you are fulfilling as a grandparent, which ones bring you the most satisfaction and which ones you would like to more fully embrace.