NDSU Extension - Morton County


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March 5, 2018 Grandparents' Roles

Liz Larson, Parent and Family Resource Center

Dates to Remember

March 8                     Private General Pesticide Training, Hebron
March 13, 20, 27       Caring for Children: First 5 Years, Mandan
March 15                   Morton County Ag Day, Mandan
March 15                   Morton County Fair board meeting
March 20                   Fumigation Training – Live Stream, Mandan
March 21                   Nourish Your Brain, Morton Mandan Public Library
March 26                   Private General Pesticide Training, Mandan
March 26                   Parents Forever, Mandan
April 6                        Wear Blue Day – for Child Abuse Prevention Month

Grandparents’ Roles

Maybe you have heard the saying “If I had known grandchildren were going to be so much fun, I would have had them first!” Transitioning in to the role of becoming a grandparent is a topic we do not always discuss. Like many life transitions, there are several emotions, opportunities for growth, and hopefully lots of happiness. Similar to parents, not all grandparents are the same. Not all people enter grandparenthood in the same manner or timeframe. However you enter the role, becoming a grandparent holds opportunities for mentoring, fostering new connections, and passing on values and family identity.

The role grandparents play in family life can vary based on several factors. NDSU Extension has a wonderful publication called The Art of Grandparenting. In it, research referenced describes many styles of grandparenting. These include:

  • Formal grandparent – a grandparent who follows prescribed ideas and acts as the family elder
  • Fun-seeker grandparent – a grandparent who is informal, playful and fun for a grandchild
  • Reserved grandparent – a grandparent who remains in the background and engages family usually around holidays or other ritual occasions (weddings, etc.)
  • Surrogate parent – a grandparent who assumes the care-giving responsibilities in raising a grandchild
  • Wise grandparent – a grandparent who provides training in special skills, furnishes resources or dispenses wisdom and counsel

As the publication states, the point is a grandparent does not need to practice a particular style. The styles may change over time or with evolving relationships. The roles may change as families and children develop different personality traits, experiences, and developmental steps. At some point, most grandparents ask themselves something like, what kind of relationship and legacy do I wish to build in my role as grandparent? Reflecting on your own experiences and ideas can be helpful in preparing to be a grandparent or in your current role. Some things to consider:

  • Were you close to a grandparent or grandparental figure?
  • Were (or are) your own parents close to your children?
  • How did you feel (or how might you feel) when your first grandchild was born?
  • Can you see yourself as the emotional leader of your family?
  • What are some things that you uniquely can teach or offer to a grandchild?
  • What are some of the things you would like to pass on to a grandchild?

Grandchildren experience many benefits from the positive contributions of grandparents. The meaning of grandparenting can be deep and profound for many. Grandparents can:

  • Impart a sense of identity
  • Provide unconditional love
  • Represent hope for the future
  • Be a source of stability and security
  • Act as a mentor and teacher
  • Exemplify positive values, ideals & beliefs
  • Nurture and give support
  • Assist with emotional, mental and spiritual well-being
  • Be a role model and play companion

Remember, the time and roles you play are benefitting your entire family including your grandchild. You have most likely raised children and know how tiring it can be. Parents and caregivers appreciate support in all forms from grandparents. As we have stated before – the benefits to children are countless. Therefore, whether you are looking forward to becoming a grandparent or you have already stepped in to this role enjoy that next step! “Becoming a grandparent is like the dessert at the end of a good meal.”

For more information on information referenced from the publication The Art of Grandparenting, search for the article title on our website: www.ag.ndsu.edu/extension/

Or contact Liz Larson with the NDSU Extension Parent and Family Resource Center | Region 7 at 701-667-3342, Liz.Larson@ndsu.edu 


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