Your Take on Grandma’s Role?

As soon as I saw this article (“When Grandma Can’t Be Bothered”) in today’s New York Times, I felt compelled to start a discussion about it on WMAG. The gist is that many grandmas these days aren’t interested in a “hands on role” with their grandchildren — either as regular babysitters or simply as actively involved grandparent types.

Here’s a little piece of the article to give you a better idea:

… Women with young children are looking for guidance from their mother or mother-in-law, but these days they are often looking in vain. (For whatever reason, they seem to have no such great expectation of their father or father-in-law.)

Thoroughly modern grandmothers, so-called glam-mas, “feel they’ve put in their time,” Ms. Barash said. “They were devoted to children to the exclusion of their own freedom, and they’re not looking to repeat the mothering process with their grandchildren.”

In other words, it may take a village to raise a child, but these days the village may be more heavily populated with nannies than nanas.

WMAGs, I have to ask: What are your expectations of Grandma? Or Grandpa, for that matter? And how do they measure up in real life? Feel free to comment anonymously if you’re afraid said grandparent might read what you say and have hurt feelings (or retaliate, if that’s how it is in your family).
In my case, I guess I lucked out big-time, because my mom is a freakin’ awesome grandma. See photo above of her with her two favorite granddaughters. Also, read my Mother’s Day tribute to her from 2007 if you want the full scoop on her awesomeness.
My dad is a pretty typical grandpa, I guess. He loves Cassie and (mostly) enjoys her company. But he has never clamored for time with her the way my mom has, and I didn’t expect him to. He wasn’t really that kind of dad, and he’s sort of a quiet, loving, understated, but reliable grandpa too.
Now it’s you’re turn …

18 thoughts on “Your Take on Grandma’s Role?

  1. Honestly, my mom and step-dad are both incredible grandparents. They LOVE spending time with the girls and make sure they see them regularly (every couple weeks even though they’re a couple hours away), and they’re *always* available when we need them – in emergencies or just because hubby and I need a date after months without one. I’m definitely blessed!

    My MIL, FIL and dad all have the best of intentions, and they love being grandparents (and I do think any of them would be available in an emergency), but it’s just not the same!

  2. Anonymous says:

    My parents are such awesome grandparents and it makes me so happy seeing them in these roles. They live about an hour away, but they ask to see L if they haven’t seen her for a few days. My mom works full time and watches her on her one day off every week. My dad will be in our neck of the woods for work and call to see where L is so he can stop and see her. Sometimes he will even stop when I’m not home and she’s w her other Grandma or Aunt just to say hi to her. It makes me so happy. They love her so much and she is CRAZY about them.
    My m-i-l has 8 grandkids and she gives each family one day a week of babysitting now that she is retired. She doesn’t stop over for impromptu visits like my folks do, but she is a good grandma, none the less.

  3. geekymummy says:

    My parents and my in laws both live on a different continent to us. But my mum takes care of my sisters kids 2 days a week, every week, and her and my dad are having all three of her kids this weekend so that my sister an husband can have a weekend away.
    I know they would do the same for us, if only we didn’t live 3000 miles away.

  4. I sometimes feel cheated that my parents don’t live closer, like a lot of my friends’ parents do, and therefore I can’t rely on them to do things like pick my daughter up when I’m working late or babysit when we want to have date night, let alone provide full-time daycare, but there are plusses to having them far away, too. The time they do get to spend with her is precious, and they treat it that way. I know they love being with her and can’t wait to see her again. I don’t blame grandparents who feel like it’s not their job to be second parents or babysitters to their grandkids. When my mom does come to spend a week with my little one and takes on the brunt of childcare (at her insistence) I know it wears her out. I know the article and this post aren’t completely about grandparents acting as day care providers, but I think that is one area where Grandma and Grandpa can get burned out. I’ve found that a little bit of absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I think my and my husband’s parents are better grandparents because of it. Also, my daughter appreciates them more because they aren’t around, spoiling her all the time. It makes it much more special when they *do* come!

  5. I am having that experience with my mom (age 60) now and am very disappointed. Right after my son was born, she told me she didn’t ‘do’ diapers. No show me how it’s done these days, just not going to do it. She vary rarely comes to visit and does not have much of a relationship with her grandson although they do bond great when she is here. By contrast, my MIL (unfortunately in Australia) at 78yrs old not only spent time with him alone at 3mo, she had a blowout or two to deal with. I wish we lived closer to her.

  6. Not a mom yet, but when I have kids, I’m almost certain my side of the family will be playing a very large roll in our childrens’ lives.

    Not so much my future in-laws, however. We’ll both live far away from them (several hours drives) and I wouldn’t leave my kids to be babysat by either my future mother-in-law or my father-in-law plus his wife. (Maybe him alone, just not her.) They’re too deeply religious and mean-spirited for me to let them around any children of mine with neither me or my husband-to-be around.

  7. selfmademom says:

    Both of my parents are amazing and doting grandparents. My mom is like a second mom to my son. I am so lucky and grateful! Whatever works for whatever family, I guess!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I can relate to the story, especially the part about wanting to “show off” the grandkids but not really be active. My kid’s grandparents both live within a few miles and while they often stop by to see them for an hour or so, we are often made to feel guilty if we ask for an hour or two of baby-sitting (and we are going to hear about the weekend trip we just took for at least the next 5 years…it seems to get brought up in every conversation). They often make a big deal about us not coming over if they don’t see the kids for a week or two, but when we do go over they always seem to be disappearing and doing other things. It just gets frustrating because we are always expected to be there and to help them whenever they need it, but we often feel like we don’t get that in return at times.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I want to be Marian Robinson if my children bless me with grandchildren! My parents and in-laws are just too far away to depend on regularly but they love their visits with the kids.

  10. My mother is our childcare provider – definitely a hands-on grandmother!Here’s a But I do have friends whose parents live nearby but have established boundaries so that they can maintain the freedom that they enjoy now that their kids are grown.
    I’ve been hearing A LOT about grandparents who are compelled to take on the role of the nanny in order to help their kids financially.

  11. Mairtin'sMom says:

    My parents are excellent, involved grandparents. Perhaps because my spouse and I are older parents and they longed for grandchildren for many years before they had them. At least my mom did (and quite vocally at times!). Also, they are not baby boomers, so maybe it’s a generational characteristic.

    They call every couple of days and we have Scype calls every week or two. We live in a small Manhattan apartment, so they don’t come to visit as often as we’d like, but we try to get out to see them for one weekend a month (or so). We are always more than welcome.

    Last week my spouse went back to the UK to visit his family and my mom and dad happily drove 5 hours and slept on our crummy pull out couch for 5 days. My mom insisted that our son stay with them and not go to daycare while they were here. She cooked dinner every night and tried to convince me to let her wash a load of diapers, while my dad oiled our table and fixed a wonky door knob.

    When they left and I profusely thanked them for all their help, they looked at me like I was crazy and said, “thank YOU for letting us spend this time with Mairtin.” I only wish they lived closer.

  12. My mom is a life saver. She “doesn’t have a life” as she puts it, and our son is “the man in her life.” She loves spending time with our kids and is there at a moments notice if we need her. She works full time and spends most of her weekends with us. We love it. We get a break from parenting to do things as a husband and wife and she gets grandkid time.

    She lives about 40 minutes away from us, but will drive down during the week if we need her, even though she has to be up early for work the next day. I really don’t know what we would do with out her. She is so wonderful to us.

    My dad and step mom have 4 younger kids and will take ours occasionally. But they have their hands full with their own, so it’s not as often.

    My FIL NEVER sees the kids. When he does come to visit, it’s for maybe an hour at a time every few months if we’re lucky. I think he’s waiting for us to potty train our son, but he’s missing out on so much bonding, by the time he is willing to take him our son won’t even know who he is. And he lives new my mom, so the drive isn’t that far, he just doesn’t put in the effort.

  13. While my parents both still work and don’t live with me, they do live just up the street and are an incredible support system. Before my divorce, they were always available to assist, but since the divorce, they’ve come out in full force to support me and my son. They also spend one afternoon/evening a week with their other grandkids and regularly host us all for meals.

    A lot of this has to do with how I come from a culture where grandparents play a very active role in child-rearing. It’s common for granparents to live with one of their kids and his/her family and for grandma to do daycare duties.

  14. Since we live far away from both sets of the kids’ grandparents, and our parents are a bit older than lots of grandparents, we have never really relied on them for day-to-day babysitting. We have occasionally left the kids to go on a trip of a couple days by ourselves…but that was just twice, a while ago! I guess we figure this is what we get for living so far away.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    My grandparents lived in Mexico and my parents would let us stay there for the entire summer so we could learn as much as possible from them and love them/be loved by them as much as we could.

    With that in mind, we live in Chicago and my parents live in Florida and my two-year-old often spends months at a time with my parents. They are amazing and my dad, who was always a great dad, is overjoyed by being a grandpa. Last time I brought my son home, I got calls every day from my sisters talking about how much my dad missed my son. My mother isn’t far behind. My dad makes his breakfast and lunch, takes him for walks and to the park every day, bathes him, plays with him and makes sure he’s ALWAYS okay. My son, and my stepson, totally lucked out! Even my stepson’s mother says so!

  16. Kennedy's Gma says:

    Being the age of those “modern” grandmothers, I have prayed since my kids were grown, that I would live long enough to become a Grandma. As of this past October24th, I was blessed with a beautiful, healthy grandaughter. My prayers have been answered. I fly about 1000 miles, to care for her, while her Mommy and Daddy are working. All my kids have grown up and gone on with their lives, as they should. Now, it is my turn to do what makes me happy, and caring for her does!! We haven’t worked everything out about the travel, just happy to take it week by week. Who knows maybe my son-in-law will get a job back home where I live?? Wouldn’t that be grand? All I know is, it would break my heart to know she was at a “sitters” or daycare every day, when she could be with me. So, since I am blessed to have her in my life, and my daughter and son-in-law like having me around I will be taking care of my grandbaby, and loving every minute of it.

  17. I purposely purchased a home nearby my parents so that once I Harv kids they would have their grandparents and I would have my parents help. That time has finally come, and aside from them picking up takeout for Sunday night dinner, I haven’t seen them in 3 weeks. My in-laws live in Europe, but when they are here my MIL is amazing. I never expected to rely on my MIL more than my own mother.

  18. I don,t have a daughter. But i am blessed with two great daughter-in-laws. I want to be an active part in our grandchildren’s lives. The one daughter-in-law is so loving and allows me all the time i want with her daughter. I am so grateful to her, but when it comes to my birthday, mothers day or any of the holidays i never receive anything from either of them. I guess that is what you get for having only boys. I feel so left out and unloved. A card would be nice or a call. It sucks not to have a daughter. If you have a daughter you are so blessed, because they will always be grateful to you. The mother of one of them expect to be first in every thing. I have 5 boys and have been the last to see and hold all 7 grandchildren, because the girls mothers are always first, and i understand that, but it still makes me feel that i am not important. I dont really know where i fit anymore

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