A few weeks ago, my mom and her old college roommate, Laura, were catching up during one of their monthly phone chats – exchanging news, reminiscing about past memories, and everything in between. During their long conversation, they began to discuss what they call The Grandparent Debate.
What’s that, you ask? Well, if you have kids, you may have or are currently experiencing a similar struggle. You may have asked yourself questions like, “Do I become a stay-at-home parent? Do I continue my career? What choice is going to be best for my children?” While there are pros and cons to each opinion, this dilemma is something that my mom and most of her friends struggled with. Now, grandparents are finding themselves in a similar position some 30 years later, Laura expressed.
Have you struggled with defining what role you should play in your grandchild’s life? Do you feel pressured to always be available as a caregiver? Do you have friends who make you feel like you’ve made the wrong choice? We know that The Grandparent Debate is real, and we are here to help you navigate the difficult decisions.
Should I Be Available as a Daycare Option?
In today’s world, there is no dominant family form. According to Pew Research Center, the amount of single-parent households has increased by 12 percent since 1960. In conjunction, the number of two-parent households is declining. Among the two-parent households, more and more contain two working parents.
This new reality raises the question of who will take care of the children while parents are away at work. For some parents, hiring a nanny or paying a daycare facility may be viable options to solve the problem, but perhaps not economically friendly for others. That’s where you come in – a trusted, respected adult who comes at little to no charge.
As mentioned before, everyone’s situation is different. If you are willing and able to take care of your grandchildren while their parents are at work, wonderful. But, if not, don’t feel ashamed. If that’s the case, work with your children to come up with a reasonable solution for who should watch the grandkids.
Do I Have the Stamina to Take Care of My Grandchildren on a Routine Basis?
This is an important question you need to answer. You must evaluate your own personal health before you commit to being a full-time caregiver. If your grandchildren are tweens or teens, this question might not be the top one running through your mind. However, if your grandchildren are babies or toddlers, you need to be sure that you can handle their energy and constant need for care and supervision.
Most importantly, understand your grandchildren’s needs and their parent’s expectations for care. If you don’t think you will be able to handle it, speak up! Spending time with your grandchildren should be fun, memorable, and worthwhile – not an exhausting chore.
Do I Have to Sacrifice My Free Time During Retirement to Help Out My Children?
This is perhaps the most grueling question. For grandparents who are retired, you may feel obligated to fill free time by assisting your children and taking care of your grandchildren. Keep in mind, though, that you already did your parenting duties once. While you should want to help your children out and spend time with your grandchildren, it’s not your main responsibility. You worked a hard life and deserve to enjoy retirement. Whether your enjoyment comes from spending time with your grandchildren constantly or doing your own thing every once in a while, never feel guilty for the choice you make.
I have an Uncle Larry who is retired with a granddaughter, Hannah. He spends a lot of time with Hannah, visiting her on weekends, taking her around their hometown of Seattle, and more. But, he also spends time away from her as well. He flies to Las Vegas to spend time with friends, visits his brothers and sisters in Rochester, NY, and plays a ton of golf. Larry balances his time with his daughter and granddaughter with his own personal hobbies. He doesn’t feel guilty leaving Seattle for a weekend, nor does he dread his time with Hannah.
At the end of the day, never let anyone make you feel guilty for the choices you make. Spend time with your family when you want to, and, in return, enjoy your time alone as well. Spending your life and your retirement how you want does not warrant anyone pegging you as a “bad grandparent.”
Are you looking for ways to combine your interests into an activity suitable for fun for the whole family? The Pups are here to help you brainstorm, so ask away!
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