For many new parents there’s a shock in store when they discover their own parents aren’t planning to be nearly as hands-on as they’d expected. The ‘grandparent gap’ can be a result of many factors:
- Many grandparents are no longer content to sit at home and amuse a grandchild – they have travel plans, hobbies and enthusiasms and even new businesses they want to start … and run.
- They’ve already experienced ‘grand-fatigue’, where they’ve been expected to be on-tap unpaid childcare for a new arrival, regardless of their own commitments, health and desires.
- Longer working lives make grandparenting a challenge – some grandparents would love to spend more time with their grandchildren but logistics just don’t pan out. They’re busy enough trying to keep up with their current commitments, let alone taking on new ones.
- Many parents have been off building independent lives, and then when they have children of their own, they expect their own parents to want to be involved again, but sometimes they feel rejected or neglected and only of value as free childcare.
A professional nanny can help with many of the issues that arise around absent grandparents. Not only can she help take the strain off you, so that your children get quality time with you, if not with them.
Finding out why your parents aren’t as involved as you thought they would be is important and the place to start is to take them out and talk, sensitively, about the issue in some neutral place like over a good dinner. Explaining what you most enjoyed about spending time with your own grandparents can be a good place to start exploring how your own parents might fit into the family dynamic. It’s just possible that your parents don’t find the way you are asking them to grandparent to be much fun!
Working out what ‘grandparenting’ means to you can allow you to build some of those aspects into your children’s lives. For example, one of our most experienced nanny candidates arranges a home-work free night every week where each child in the family gets to spend half an hour with her, talking about whatever they like, without comment, criticism or suggestions. The evening continues with a family movie – often a golden oldie – and then a board game. It’s a blend of chill-time and nostalgia that gives modern children, who are often driven by deadlines and peer pressure, a release from their day-to-day experience.
Remember that your parents may want to spend time with you, as much, if not more, than they do with their grandchildren! Give them that opportunity too and you might find everything works out better than you expected.