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Susan Adcox

Is Grandparenting a Second Chance?

By June 4, 2012

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Rick Warren, the evangelical pastor, tweeted this on June 1: "In grandparenting, parents get a second chance." It's the kind of aphorism that sounds good at first, and quite a few people retweeted it, most with exclamations like, "So true!" Which makes me wonder: Is it true?

Most of those responding interpreted Warren's statement to mean that they get to spoil, indulge and have fun with their grandkids in a way that they weren't allowed to do with their own kids. "Yes, I did not spoil my children near enough!" one respondent tweeted. Few of those commenting noted that grandparenting and parenting are very different roles.

Grandparenting is not a do-over. It's a second wave of children to love, but, unless you are a grandparent raising grandchildren, your role is different the second time around. And it's not all fun and games. It's about creating and preserving family traditions and providing a link to the past. It's about sharing your love, your passions and your priorities to give grandchildren a wider, richer view of the world. It's about supporting parents in all that they do and stepping in when needed. At times it can be tiring and stressful. At least that's the way I see it. What do you think?

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June 4, 2012 at 8:00 am
(1) granny annie says:

Parenting and Grandparenting involve the same person…me:) I have fun with my grandchildren, just like I did with my children. I am strict with my grandchildren, just like I was with my children. It’s a lot like reliving history only with the grandchildren I’m better at second guessing their reactions because I’ve already done it once. I can indulge them more than I did their parents because I am better off financially, but try very hard not to over indulge them.

June 4, 2012 at 9:59 am
(2) gwen says:

I do feel like it is a second chance. You know the old saying, love me, love my child. Well, with my children’s children, I can love on both at the same time. I love telling my granddaughter that she is just like her mommy when she does something kind. I am sure that it affirms both of them.

June 4, 2012 at 12:45 pm
(3) Grandma Kc says:

I really don’t see it as a 2nd chance. It isn’t my 2nd chance to be a Mom. It is my first chance to be a grandma and it is a very different role — at least in my own eyes. Being Grandma to Amara is much different than being Mom to my daughter is.

Because I am not raising my granddaughter, being a grandma is much easier. A much more relaxed and fun centered job. It is wonderful to have the time to do the things with Amara that I didn’t have enough time to do with her Mom — that part is wonderful but I just don’t see it as my 2nd chance.

June 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm
(4) kimberly says:

I understand what he means. I am so much more apt to say,”Yes,” with my gramerlings and go that extra mile, spend that extra time. I’m thinking that he means you can do some things better than you did with your own, so that makes it a second chance-not so much an actual parenting again chance. I love it. I love them, but it is a big-o lot of work. Obviously the joy outweighs the work or I wouldn’t keep it up, but it’s a challenge to meet my adult children’s expectations, particularly my DIL’s, and I don’t enjoy that part much at all. Ahhh, life.

June 10, 2012 at 11:01 am
(5) grandparentsplus2 says:

I see being a grandparent not as a do over but as a whole new experience. I love not caring if my grandkids pick up, want to eat only what they want to eat, don’t want to brush their hair (have to brush the teeth), and want to play games, ride bikes, and walk on the beach all day long. We are ‘visiting’ together. They go home to Mom and Dad and the rules that are required for growing up. I get the best part – just loving them, having fun, and keeping them safe. When we were planning for our camping trip, my granddaughter was so happy and said “free at last.” To me that is what they are looking for – a break from their routine while their parents also get a break. And, everyone knows, the grandparent will need a break to recover once they go home. But, what great memories.

June 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm
(6) penpen4 says:

I had lunch with a friend the other day who said the same thing as the pastor: Grandchildren are a second chance.

But a second chance at what? We aren’t the parents of our grandchildren. We’re the grownchild’s mother, and our relationship with our grandchild will depend not only on the love we show our little Grands but on the strength of our relationship with our grownchildren, who control access to their children. Personally, I would never want my son or daughter to see me as a person who was trying to take over their role. They look to me to reaffirm what a great job they are doing. I love doing that.

June 11, 2012 at 7:04 pm
(7) MeMe says:

I think grandparenting can be/ is an amazing opportunity to love and be loved in such a precious way, but I agree with someone else who said, it all depends on the relationship you have with the child’s parents. It can be very stressful and tiring when the adult child has too many expectations and forgets the grandparent still has a life that does not revolve around their needs. Finding that balance is so important. It certainly keeps one a bit more spontaneous and young at heart!

June 11, 2012 at 8:34 pm
(8) Sally Kabak says:

Raising a grandchild 24/7 is not all fun and games. My husband and I are raising a now 7-year-old granddaughter; she has been in our care since she was nearly 2 1/2. It is hard work, it is tiring, yet on so many different levels it is rewarding. The wonderful hugs that I get from her, the wanting to ease my pain when I’m upset over something, the way that she is achieving at school, her love of babies and animals and so much more make her a wonderful well-rounded little girl.

When Lucy (not her real name) came into our care, she could hardly speak a word, she was sad, her eyes were dull and lifeless. That soon changed when she realized that we weren’t going to abandon her but that we would always be here for her. Due to her history of leading a transient lifestyle with her mother, this was a very important issue that had to be consistently mentioned to her. It took her a long time to understand; thankfully she now realizes that we will always be here for her.

We provide a link to her past with a ‘life book.’ In it she has a photo of her mother, my daughter; she has drawn a picture of what her father looks like. Lucy has pictures of her 7 brothers and sisters and important events that have taken place in her life to date.

Priorities have certainly changed since Lucy came to us. No longer are we free to do what we want, when we want as there is a little person to be considered.

We have made sure that she calls us Grandma and Grandpa. Mum and Dad was never an option, because that is not who we are, yet we have taken over the role of her parents.

Lucy is a beautiful, charming, intelligent girl whom we love dearly. Even though we have made sacrifices, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

June 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm
(9) Joyce says:

I had formulated my reply and then began reading through the comments. Grandma Kc took a sentence right out of my head! She now has the TIME to do things with a granddaughter that she didn’t have for her daughter. To me, that circumstance alone describes “second chance”. What I do now with my grand kids can be called “enrichment”. I don’t need to supply the basics like their parents do, as I did for their mothers, so there is simply more time for the fun, goofy, crazy stuff…and boy do we ever indulge in it! I am glad to leave the serious parenting to the rightful owners, and my daughters always make me happy when they acknowledge that some excesses are simply the earned privilege of a doting grandparent!

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