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Are you missing something in the way you grandparent your children’s kids?

Your friend, Sally, will babysit her grandchildren every day of the week and twice on Sundays if she’s given the opportunity. You enjoy babysitting too, but not every day.

Jenny takes her grandkids on exciting vacations, yet your pocketbook only allows an occasional movie and a hamburger.

Your girlfriends only see their grandchildren when there is an opening on their calendar. However, your daughter is in rehab, and you’re raising her kids. This wasn’t your choice, but it isn’t something you want to say “no” to doing.

You’re a vegetarian. Your grandchildren only eat hot dogs and fishy crackers.

Birthday and Christmas gifts? Your budget is a fraction of what the “other grandparents” spend on the kiddos.

How do you know if you’re doing the grandparent thing right?

You know better than to compare yourself with the “competition.” And you certainly don’t want to criticize another woman’s grandparenting style.  

But if you’re honest, the gap between how you grandparent and what you assume is expected by your kids, grandkids, and other grandparents is obvious and embarrassing.

Let’s take a look at 5 different types of grandparenting, and then we’ll mix in some tips for creating your own grandparent style that works for you.

What grandparenting type are you?

In 1965, the University of Chicago’s Bernice Neugarten identified 5 different types or patterns of grandparenting. Her studies back then hold true today.

Because family dynamics fluctuate and change with the parenting decisions our adult children make, you will probably find yourself in a combination of several of the following grandparenting types.

Don’t be surprised if you relate to more than one of the following, or you find that you are one type of grandmother with one set of grandchildren and another type with another family set.

  1. Formal Grandparent

A formal grandparent, or traditional grandmother, is what most of us visualize when thinking of grandparents.

They are always there to support their children and grandchildren through life’s ups and downs. They offer their listening skills, emotional support, and encouragement when needed, without undermining the role of the parents.

  1. Fun Seeker

This type of grandmother provides lots of fun activities and adventures for her grandchildren. If this is you, avoid depleting your energy levels or overriding rules and decisions that the parents have made for their children.

  1. Surrogate Parent

Hats off to you if you are a surrogate parent. You are amazing! Because of pandemic lockdowns, drug abuse, or single parenting, more and more grandparents are helping to raise their grandchildren in either a full-time capacity or part-time.

You’ll be called upon to offer more structure, rules, and boundaries for your grandchildren than other grandparenting types. And you’ll need to closely guard your own self-care to avoid burnout.

  1. Reservoir of Family Wisdom

This grandmother is sought out for advice by her kids and grandkids. Remember to be respectful of your adult children and their role in parenting your grandchildren.

Don’t give advice unless asked. When guidance is requested, tread lightly and don’t undermine the relationship between parent and child.

  1. Distant Figure

Whether by circumstances or by choice, sometimes your role in the lives of your grandchildren is limited. When possible, seek creative ways to connect via the internet, slow mail, or special visits.

Tips for creating your grandparenting style

1. Give yourself permission to be different! 

After all, God created you with a unique personality, interests, energy level, and abilities. Mixed together, these help create your grandparenting style.

2. Acknowledge what you can and like to do with your grandchildren.

You don’t have to live up to the expectations of others. Doing so denies yourself the journey of discovering who you are as a grandparent.

Set your boundaries for saying yes and no as a grandparent, and then embrace your unique grandparenting style with joy!

3. Share your Jesus stories!

Children love to hear stories, and your life stories are uniquely yours. As long as you aren’t pushy, you can share your God experiences with your grandkids.

This gives your grandchildren a peek into your life. It also deposits a faith that can be referenced even after you are gone.

4. Expect change as you and your grandkids grow older.

What you could do with and for your grandchildren when you are 55 years old may not be what you can do at 70.

Be flexible. Give yourself permission to do things differently as you and your grandchildren age. There is no Perfect Grandma destination. It’s a journey.

What’s your type of grandparenting? Share about it in the comments below.

Looking for more on becoming an awesome grandparent? Check these posts out:

4 Ways to Spoil Your Grandchildren

How to Raise Self-Confidence in Teens



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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Diane

    Susan, this is AWESOME! I am definitely a mixture and my goal is to be a reservoir of wisdom!!!
    It’s so true how we compare and try to live up to others expectations. Spending 5 days with granddaughters starting tomorrow-this is perfect timing!Thank you again for sharing your wisdom 🙂

    1. Susan Gaddis

      You are welcome, Diane. Enjoy those special days with your granddaughters. And, by the way, I’m thinkin’ you are already a reservoir of wisdom for your family. 🙂

  2. Tawña Godlewski

    Thank you for this encouraging article. My husband and I are full-time grandparents to our oldest grandson. It is an honor to raise him. Your advise on self care is important. We also have three more grandsugars that we are blessed to see regularly. We love our sweet grandchildren and count ourselves blessed to be a part of their little lives. I’m so excited to see what the future brings. Thank you for your encouragement and advice. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

    1. Susan Gaddis

      Blessings to you in your journey raising your grandson, Tawna! That is quite the challenge and and a great joy. Good for you to be the stability in his life. And three more grandkids to love on too… awesome. What an adventure. Thanks for sharing your story. 🙂

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