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The difference between parenting and grandparenting

Grandparent with Grandchild, reading a book

Many say they enjoy being a grandparent significantly more than being a parent, but why? Here we list our top reasons why we think grandparenting can be more pleasurable than parenting!

You are their hero

Nobody looks up to anyone like a grandchild looks up to a doting grandparent. The reception you receive when you walk through their front door can make you feel akin to a rock star stepping onto stage at your own concert.

In your grandchildren’s eyes, you are a superhero, a wise all-knowing entity and a best friend all rolled into one. And because they respect you so much, they listen to you rather than rolling their eyes and groaning. Grandparenting is a whole other league to parenting, but your children won’t understand that until they are promoted to the title to themselves.

You have all the time in the world

Many of us hitting retirement look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with the grandkids. The luxury of time is something we didn’t have much of as parents, when we were busy juggling careers, housework, homework and routines. Today though, we can devote whole afternoons to our grandchildren, taking pleasure in playing tea parties, enjoying walks and telling stories.

Mumsnet user ‘tilliebob’ explained her view on grandparenting when talking about her mum’s relationship with her children:

“[My mum] has time to spend with them that she didn’t when we were of similar ages, as she was the stressed working mum that I now am. She’s also mellower and has more experience, so is calmer with them than my husband and I are at times.”

You are the ultimate ‘good cop’

So much of parenting is all about instilling good behaviour, healthy eating, tidying up, keeping clean and observing bedtimes. The constant parenting battle and ‘bad cop’ routine can be exhausting. But when granny and grandpa are around, rules and routines tend to go out the window.

We are the ultimate ‘good cops’, encouraging the good behaviour but turning the occasional blind eye or giving a cheeky wink when we see them sneaking some extra cookies out of the biscuit tin. After all, we only have them to ourselves for a few precious hours at a time, so why ruin it with too much discipline?

You do not have the same responsibility

Let’s face it, we couldn’t give two hoots if our grandchildren finish every last carrot on their plate at dinner, or had an extra helping of pudding. And if bedtime is half an hour later than normal? That’s okay, because it’s “just one more story, please grandad” and reading is good for them anyway.

The point is, time with the grandchildren is precious. We don’t have the responsibilities that their parents have, or that we had when our own children were their age; we are the proud providers of light relief from the day-to-day routines. Grandparenting is so enjoyable because it is more relaxed, and besides, we know that a slightly delayed bedtime here and there will not throw their whole routine out of the window, even if mum and dad seem to think so!

Mumsnet user ‘meetcat23’, a grandmother and contributor to the site, said about grandparenting and responsibilities:

“With the grandchildren I don’t have the responsibility in the same way, so I can just enjoy them without the hard work bits. My eldest grandson is in his teens now and I don’t get quite so much of the moody teen stuff as my daughter does, he doesn’t have to test his strength against me in the same way that he does with his Mum and Dad.”

You can give them what you couldn’t give to your own

Having done it all ourselves, we know only too well how expensive parenting can be. Those of us in retirement today worked hard and saved hard to provide for our families and make our way up the property ladder. Now however, the shoe is on the other foot!

Whilst our children are coping with the expense of bearing children, many of us are enjoying a larger disposable income to splurge on our grandchildren, thanks in part to property price increases over the last few decades, together with more flexible retirement lending options.

While parents are slogging to buy them their school uniforms, educational toys and their everyday shoes, now is our chance to enjoy getting the luxury items! The pretty dresses, the ‘cool’ shoes and the ‘awesome’ toys. Some of us can enjoy taking our grandchildren on holidays, too, giving them the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures at a time when perhaps their parents cannot just yet.

How much money could I release from my property?

You can hand them back

There is no doubt about it, grandparenting is enormous fun and the love we feel for our grandchildren is overwhelming. But after a long day of babysitting, isn’t it just a wonderful feeling knowing we can kiss them goodbye and hand them over to mum and dad, just as the little angels are getting fractious?

When you think about it, being a grandparent means you can enjoy those you love most in short doses. An afternoon here, an overnight stay there. We do not have to cope with the sleepless nights anymore, the exhaustion and constant chaos of having a home full of children.

Really, when you think about it, grandparenting is all the best bits of parenting; perfectly wrapped up and packaged for us at a point in our lives when we have more time, money and patience to devote to them.