Are Grandmas and Grandpas Different in Their Grandparenting Styles?

Are grandmas and grandpas different in how we relate to our grandchildren? To answer this question, the GaGa Sisterhood featured Emily and Mike Morgan at our January Zoom meeting. The Morgans have ten grandchildren and co-host The Grand Life podcast which focuses on whole-hearted grandparenting.

During a fascinating 90-minute conversation, Emily and Mike engaged with our members by sharing how they got interested in podcasting and how their parenting and grandparenting styles have evolved over their forty years together.

Their honesty and willingness to reveal both their joys and challenges was refreshing and informative. They are both dedicated to sharing resources and life experiences that help other grandparents in their journey to be more engaged and conscious in their relationships with their children and grandchildren.

The Grand Life Podcast

Emily and Mike met in college where they both worked at the same radio station. They developed a fondness for radio with Emily focusing on writing and Mike on production. Four years ago, Emily was in a discussion group with millennial moms who wished Emily could talk to their moms about some grandparent issues. Their conversations inspired the idea for the podcast. For three years, Emily interviewed guests on every imaginable facet of grandparenting from both the grandparents’ and the parent’s perspectives. It became a way for the two generations to better understand each other.

Last year the format evolved from one-hour guest interviews to 25-minute more informal conversations between Mike and Emily. They just finished a series focusing on the five senses and how they evoke memories of our own grandparents. They explain how we can provide sensory experiences for our grandchildren to create lasting memories in the same way we remember our grandparents.

Differences and Similarities

Emily addressed the question of different grandparenting styles by looking at stereotypes first. Women tend to be nurturers who love cuddling, putting kids to bed, cooking comfort food, holding babies, and letting them fall asleep on their chests. Grandmas tend to do face-to-face activities with grandchildren while grandpas do more side-by-side activities.

Our grandchildren’s gender, age, and interests can also make a difference. Emily loved holding her infant grandchildren while Mike enjoyed them more as they got older and could relate to them more intellectually by sharing ideas. Mike built models and rockets, made music with different instruments, took them fishing, and had tickle fights with their grandchildren.

My late husband joined our young granddaughters on the floor for tea parties and dolls. He also did science and astronomy projects with them when they got older. They made mobiles of all the planets to hang above their beds.

Emily describes their relationship as the yin/yang of grandparenting. They bring two different pieces to their relationship that give them each time to sit back while the other person engages.

Mike has looked for more places to engage as a grandpa than he did as a dad while Emily looks for more spaces to include him. Emily admitted it was hard to share the parenting role when their kids were young because Mike worked so much.

Grandparent Team

Now as grandparents, Mike still tends to step back and let Emily take over. She works to encourage him to get out there and join in. Mike admits he needs to look for places to contribute because Emily’s so good at everything and when he does, she steps back and gives him space.

Whether your grandparenting style is different from your partner’s is not as important as both of you being aligned in your grandparenting goals.

  • Are you both committed to being a united and supportive team for your grandchildren and their parents?
  • Are you willing to be open and receptive to new parenting methods?
  • Do you respect each other’s strengths and give each other space to engage with your grandchildren?
  • Do you work through challenges by communicating non-judgmentally with each other?

By spending time discussing these questions you’ll grow and evolve in your grandparenting roles. Emily and Mike Morgan are wonderful role models for presenting a united grandparenting front. They have great admiration for each other and have learned to trust each other by working through their challenges as both parents and grandparents. By sharing their experiences in their podcast, they’re contributing to the greater grandparent community.

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