The word “grandparents” conjures up a unique world where the dual role of parenting is manifest. Grandparents act as shock absorbers, which cushion the aftershocks, and they also act as bouncing boards, which help to ricochet a range of emotions. The different roles they play only serve to emphasize their vital link in the family. With a wealth of old world experience behind them, and having the unique ability to be able to metamorphose from advisers and listeners to mediators and friends, they can offer support and stability.
The underlying sense of responsibility that goes with this is tremendous. The role of grandparents in children’s lives is varied. It is imperial at times, muted at others, and goes underground whenever required but all the time solid and dependable. They are continually performing artists who do the balancing act all the time between their adult children and their grandchildren.
Grandparents often bridge the gap between parents and their children. Rebellious, independent children who are trying to find their feet are almost always at loggerheads with their parents. The role of the grandparents can be vital, provided they act as impartial judges and can convey this feeling to both parties. Grandchildren prefer to listen to the grandparents rather than the parents with whom they are unfortunately involved in everyday struggles. The sense of objectivity and the absence of bias lend a sense of credibility to their roles as mediators. Honestly done, this goes a long way in lulling both the parties into a sense of arbitration. Gulfs widen, but at the same time, bridges are also built.
One important thing, which seems to be missing in the lives of children today, is the sense of family, values, religious beliefs, and principles. This is where the grandparents step in. Inculcating beliefs and values is not as easy as it was 50-60 years ago. No questions were asked, and there was an inherent sense of understanding. With changing times and changing outlooks, children have started to question the authenticity of everything. They do not believe until they are convinced. Globalization has eroded the sense of belonging and identity with their roots, and science and technology have them questioning everything. The parents who are already fighting always with time are perhaps not in a position to teach these values. Children are very demanding, and grandparents without appearing to be pushy have all the time and experience to deal with tantrums. They appease, soothe, and impart values with tremendous ease.
Our Indian culture is rich and varied, but how many children realize its value? Grandparents can make them appreciate the values of tradition and provide a platform for moral and religious values. Of course, some of the Indian customs may seem redundant today, but some things have eternal value.
Respect for parents and the sense of loyalty towards them is so unique in Indian heritage. This can be handed down at least in some measure to the children.
The grandparents were on the periphery, and still being central can perform this role to perfection. The ability to Love, shower affection, and willingness to help and comfort their grandchildren has made grandparents indispensable. There can be no gainsaying the fact that their role is as essential as the role of parents. Their timeless experience, their patience, and their ability to create a non-compulsive learning environment is something that even parents have learned to rely on. This means that the role of grandparents in children’s upbringing can never really be relegated to the background. ~ Author M. Hemdev