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LautelGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 12-Feb-15 16:20:59

Helena Clarke shares just what it is that makes grandparents so special

From hugs and cuddles to playtime and crafts, there's something truly special about the relationships between children and their grandparents. Helena Clarke explores just what it is that makes grandma and granddad so irreplaceable. Helena blogs about the perils of parenting on her blog Mother Inferior.

Helena Clarke

Mum of two Helena Clark shares just what it is that makes grandparents so special

Posted on: Thu 12-Feb-15 16:20:59


Lead photo

Helena is a blogger and mum to two young daughters.

We all know there is something very special about the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren, but what exactly is it that means there really is ‘no one quite like’ grandparents? In a quest to get to the heart of the matter, I turned to the experts and asked my children to tell me what is so special about grandparents.

My youngest daughter (never one to hide her blatant self-interest!) quickly piped in in with ‘Grandad lets us buy magazines even when we don’t have enough pocket money!’ thereby giving us:

Reason number 1: excessive generosity
It’s true: grandparents spoil their grandchildren. Not always with lavish gifts, you understand. In the case of my children, it is more likely to be a magazine at the shop (that I would make them pay for with their pocket money!), a biscuit tin always full of their favourite custard creams (never in existence in our house as I know only too well that I would eat them all!), or a special roast dinner (a favourite with both my girls but rarely made by their vegetarian mother).

Children notice these touches - the extra effort made by their grandparents to give them something they know they will love – and they love them for it.

So what else are grandparents extra good at? My eldest daughter chipped in with her view that ‘Grandma always does craft with us.’ Leading to:

Reason number 2: creativity
Trips to Grandma’s house are always notable for the plethora of cooking and craft activities that occur. I may once have been pretty good at doing fun crafts and painting with my children, but these days school, work and after-school activities keep us so busy, that whenever we have a free weekend, I struggle to find the energy to be creative and messy! Grandma however is great at this: sewing, knitting, painting, baking….a chance for the girls to lose themselves in a bit of creative fun.

It's like they are extra parents who love you lots and look after you.

So that’s what my children rate about having grandparents, but what about my view as a parent? What do I value about my parents’ role in the lives of my children? The list is long and varied, but here’s a few of my top reasons:

Reason number 3: I love that they are there for my children when I cannot be
I am very fortunate in that I live close to my parents (not too close mind; I think living next door would quickly lose its appeal for all parties -except maybe the kids!) and I really value the fact that they are able to play such a significant part in our lives.

As a working parent, I am plagued with guilt when I miss school plays and nativities due to work commitments, but knowing my parents are there in the audience to cheer, smile encouragingly, and - more often than not - cry, eases that guilt considerably.

Reason number 4: I love having an objective-ish opinion on my parenting crises
On those days where my children’s behaviour, or their worries, or their eating patterns, or their refusal to practise the flute becomes too much for me, I really value the fact that I can ring my parents and ask their advice. Advice that comes from people who love my children as much as I do, but don’t have to live with them and their shouting, arguing and generally frustrating behaviour, and are therefore well placed to give sensible, thoughtful advice.

Reason number 5: I love that they are as interested in my children as I am
This one was suggested by a friend and summed up - for me - what is the most amazing about grandparents. As parents, we know (or most of us do, at least) that other people are not as interested in hearing about our children as we are in talking about them. We recognise that sometimes we need to hold our tongue and resist the temptation to announce every amusing comment made and every milestone met to all who will listen.

Grandparents though, are a safe haven from the world of good-mannered reserve. They too want to celebrate every little achievement our children make. They too will never tire of looking at photographs old and new of their smiling faces. They really are as interested in our children as we are. And you can’t put a value on that!

My final thoughts come once more from my girls. In answer to the question ‘What is the very best thing about grandparents?’ my 9 year old told me: ‘It’s like they are extra parents who love you lots and look after you.’ Sounds pretty fabulous to me, I knew there was no one quite like them!

By Helena Clarke

Twitter: @motherinferiorb

jefm Sat 14-Feb-15 17:28:18

What a lovely article, just wish my DIL felt the same way. The consolation is the love of the children who I don't see much but do know that they know how much I love them.

susan2014 Fri 02-Oct-15 22:52:16

Hi jefm.
I agree, a lovely article. I have a new grandson he is seven months old and I am totally in love. They live too far away to visit often, yet I have seen him 3 times so far.Just hoping he will grow to love his "distant" Nanna as much as she loves him.

mazgoli Fri 08-Jan-16 18:15:33

Just read your lovely article. As grandparents looking after several little ones during the week, we feel blessed to be able to be a part of their lives and watch them grow. We know too that our children are very grateful that we are able and willing to make this commitment.