What if grand-parents and grand-kids could help each other be more autonomous? How can you build enriching relationships across generations?
Grandpa, Grandma, and autonomy
French grandparents are quite involved in their grandkids lives: about 48%* of seniors take care of their grandchildren at least once a month, 23% do it every week.
Today’s grandparents were born during the post-World War II baby boom, and they’re generally younger than grandparents used to be on average; a lot of them are still professionally active! The good old days of granny baking cakes and knitting in a rocking chair are over… Nowadays, grandparents are dynamic, outgoing, they embrace the digital world… They can be a great help in your children’s quest for autonomy. They’re willingto take your kids on a trip, a hike, go camping or on a cruise; there’s a whole lot more that they can do to expand your children’s horizon compared to previous generations!
This new relationship also helps seniors remain independent; of course, they’re more active than their own parents at the same age. But they still have to deal with the downsides of aging. A close relationship with their grandkids, developed since the kids’ births, when the grandparents had full physical and mental abilities, is a great way to maintain closeness and mutual support between generations. A shared interest for the old and the young!
How to make it work
They’re offering to take your kids on an “active” vacation: travelling abroad, touring, camping… A great family experience, but also a source of concern or stress on your part: what if junior gets homesick or bored; what if Grandpa or Grandma had a hard time following the pace, or had an accident? Of course, the best way to address these concerns is to have an open conversation: share your fears with the grandparents and let them voice their arguments too. Setting up GPS trackers for the kids and the grandparents is a good way to make everybody safer, especially if the trip is planned in wild nature: it allows everybody to relax without infringing on anyone’s autonomy.
Other context: your parents have grown older, they are not as active and healthy as they were a few years ago. That’s when a strong bond between them and your kids can be helpful. You can now count on your older kids to take care of their grandparents: visit them every once in a while, run errands, do a little mending here and there… It’s not about turning your kids into caregivers (a task that’s way too heavy for teenagers!), but making sure to return the favor to grandparents that have been helpful to you in the past. Then again, it is important to have an open discussion with your children about their relationship with their grandparents, and make sure that they don’t consider it as a chore or an obligation; it should remain an enjoyable time!
*Source: barometer Domitys-IFS for the Seniors salon 2018