What are the differences between love for your child and love for your grandchild?
There is no doubt that I’m generalizing here. Still, my 30-plus year experience as a therapist has helped me come to a fascinating conclusion about families: that is to say, grandparents seem to love their grandchildren–rather express more love to them–than they ever did their own children. Moreover, their grandkids (usually my clients) have a much easier time confiding in their grandma and (though not entirely as much) their grandpa than they do with their own parents. Here are some reasons for this phenomenon:
1. The Older, the less uptight. It’s no secret that some people get bitter with age. However, the great majority of us become mellower, less vulnerable to the daily troubles and disappointments. Plus, as individuals get older, their expectations of others become less selfish, and they become more adjustable to the world as it is- vs. how they would rather it be.
Their behaviours tends to be more tolerant, agreeable, and forgiving. Consequently, they will go much easier on their grandkids’ misbehaviours compared to their children’s same misbehaviours (i.e., their grandkids’ parents). Therefore, the actions and words that bothered them-or even provoked-when you were young, they may now recognize and accept as something rather age-appropriate: behaviours that barely provoke an adverse reaction and instant correction or punishment.
2. The Challenging Labor of Parenting vs. the Sweet Pleasures of Grand-parenting. There’s no argument that parenting is a demanding task. Children can be tricky (sometimes exceedingly so). They keep getting on your nerves, no matter how much you try to stay calm in front of their limitless, disobedient behaviours. They can be messy, complainive, quarrelsome, annoyingly inflexible, recklessly impulsive, and at times just plain dirty. I bet there is not a single parent who hasn’t “lost it” with their kids from time to time.
3. Grandmas Try Harder (After all, They’re Only Number Two). You could say children should love their parents. Whether they are treated nicely or wrong, they depend highly on their caretakers, causing them to seek a way of securely “attaching” to them. It’s a psychological fact that children can connect even more closely with parents who abuse them emotionally, physically, or even sexually. This could be the situation when grandparents’ needs are so prominent that they need to do everything in their power to feel safe in the family.
4. A Chance for a Redemption. When parents age, it’s common for them to think about (and even deeply contemplate) past errors they had while parenting their children when they were growing up. Actually, as children get older, they tend to criticize or blame their parents for how they were raised and treated. They may have felt oppressed, disrespected, continuously lectured to, and not given enough compassion and support as it was needed (and simply couldn’t speak up back then for any reason).
• A Welsh proverb states that true love doesn’t appear until the first grandchild.
• “Grandmas are just moms with a lot of frosting” -Author unknown
• Charles and Ann Morse believe that a child needs a grandparent, anybody’s grandparent for that matter, to feel secure in an unfamiliar outside world while growing up.
• Ruth Goode says her grandchildren accept them for themselves, without any harsh criticism or effort to change them, different from anyone we have known in our entire lives, not our parents, siblings, friends – and hardly ever our own grown children.
• Allan Frome reckons being grandparents effectively prohibits us of the responsibilities so that we can be friends.”
• “When grandparents enter the door, discipline is suspended.” –Ogden Nash.