Role of Grandparents in the Family

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience,…
Grandparents playing with their grandchildren

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” ~Rudolph Giuliani

Have you ever wondered about what is the role of grandparents in the family? Did you ever try considering that the role of grandparents in the family is as important as your role? You as parents have your daily duty towards your children, but the role of grandparents is a very consistent, often unacknowledged one.

Nowadays, fewer grandparents get to be real grandparents in the real sense of the word, in the lives of their grandchildren. The reason being because of the various changes in the society like, migration of young couples to farther distance, greater disharmony between parents and grandparents, and higher divorce rates between parents and even grandparents, which are weakening the family as an institution.

Such changes have completely produced opposite results: on one hand some grandchildren are raised by their grandparents with minimal involvement of parents, and on the other hand, some grandchildren have little contact with their grandparents.

America is fast becoming a granny state, where less frail and more involved grandparents are shunning retirement homes and stepping in more to raise their grandchildren, while young adults struggle in the poor economy. They teach their grandchildren the traditional American values of hard work, honesty, and integrity. Had it not been for these grandparents, many children would have been denied a moral and healthy environment, and some would have become wards of the state!

However, some grandparents can also be an unhealthy influence, like when they interfere and meddle with parent-child relationship, which happens when instead of being grandparents; they compete with their children to be virtual parents, while some try to parent a child through proxy. They need to take care about being a part of the family, yet maintaining a respectable distance.

As per research, the grandparent-grandchild relationship can have lasting positive effects, and it’s worth putting in efforts to help your kids know your parents. Research shows that language skills develop better for preschool kids who are in the care of grandparents; though in some cases they don’t go quite far in the academic learning areas when cared for by grandparents. But at the end of the day, wouldn’t you prefer having your kids cuddled and chatted with, and let their language skills develop, rather than developing only the paper-and-pen skills that they would have to deal with for the rest of their lives?

According to research, the better the relationship is between parents and grandparents, the greater the contact and closeness between grandparent and grandchildren. However, it’s up to us parents to convey the message that the role of grandparents in the family is integral to our children’s lives. Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your parents, your kids may still get along well with them.

If there aren’t any potentially harmful situations, it’s best to be positive about your parents to your children. You should be willing to discuss things that are and aren’t working to create positive relationships, as the strength of the grandparent-grandchild relationship mainly depends upon the parents.

At times grandparents hesitate to participate in their children’s families because they are unsure about the expectations we may have about them, or the kids and others may have about them. We need to make an extra effort to invite grandparents into the family. Whether grandparents live close by or far away, they have a lot to offer us. Most of the times grandparents have resources that parents do not, and they are able to reach our children in ways we might not.

Mentioned below are some of the roles of grandparents in the family that they play in the lives of their grandchildren.

  • As an ancestor and historian

One of the important roles of grandparents in the family is that of a historian, which helps grandchildren find their identity in a larger context. They are the link to their grandchildren’s ancestors, the head of the family, and a connection to the family’s common history. Grandparents share the stories of the past, which maybe about relatives, important events, family traditions etc. as these stories are passed on.

The grandchildren gain a positive image of aging and their place within the family solidifies. Grandchildren feel now that they belong to a family unit, a sense of ‘we’ develops, and that gives them a sense of safety and security.

  • As a hero

Grandparents, who have fought in or lived through wars or other extreme hardships, may be the real-time heroes to their grandchildren, who feel that as their grandparents have endured for many years, they would step in to help or rescue their grandchildren in a time of need. A grandparent being a hero gives the grandchildren someone to turn and look up to, and someone to inspire them.

  • As a mentor

Grandparents in the family are like cheerleaders always inspiring grandchildren, in developing their imaginations and dreams, nurturing their spirit, and encouraging their intellectual growth while giving them a sense of self-worth. They are mentors and “heroes that many children seek to pattern their lives after.”

Grandparents are especially effective as teachers because of their unconditional love, which makes the grandchildren feel safe, comfortable, and loved for who they are, now how they perform.

  • As a role model

The actions of grandparents in the family can teach their grandchildren how they should behave in society, care for themselves, and how they should aspire to be as future parents and grandparents themselves.

The influence and role of grandparents in the family helps create a positive perception of older people in general. The relationship of grandparents with their grandchildren can also serve as a model for your grandchildren’s relationship, with their own parents and children.

  • As a nurturer

The support of grandparents provides an emotional and social safety net for the entire family, making the grandchildren feel safe and secure. This role of grandparents in the family is more important nowadays with the increasing divorce rates, teenage pregnancy, parents’ career demands, and other social problems.

Grandparents in the family need to assure their children and grandchildren that they are always there if needed, and keep in close touch with them through frequent phone calls, letters or postcards, if frequent visits are not possible.

  • As a friend

Grandparents are playmates to their grandchildren, and it’s nice for children to have fresh spectators to perform for once in a while! As they are not responsible for the day-to-day care and discipline of their grandchildren, they are able to assume the role of a secret confidant, and pal.


Grandparents offer kids a broader range of knowledge, experience and emotions than they did as parents. They provide a safe place for children to turn in times of stress when they feel they cannot approach their parents. They also occupy a special place in the family as a trusted adult, yet separate and different from the child’s parent.

As grandparents treat their grandchildren in a more relaxed and lenient manner than they ever treated their own kids, children often feel more comfortable discussing sensitive issues with grandparents than with their own parents. However, grandparents need to be careful of pitfalls such as planning activities that are against the parents’ wishes, spoiling, and partiality towards one grandchild over another. Sometimes your parents may surprise you with a hidden sense of humor or fun that seems to have been born along with your first child!

  • As a spiritual guide

Role of grandparents in the family as a spiritual guide can help teach their grandchildren to value and achieve spiritual rewards like compassion, joy, peace, love, tolerance, reverence, faith, gentleness, and kindness.

As grandparents are not responsible for the daily well being of their grandchildren, they can focus on their moral, spiritual growth and development, by setting an example for their grandchildren to emulate.

  • As a teacher

Grandparents in the family have a great opportunity to impart their knowledge, special skills, and experience to their grandchildren as their teacher. However, if the subject matter meets with opposition from the grandchildren’s parents- as in the case of values, lifestyle, religion and tradition, grandparents need to talk it over with them, in a calm and open manner, and try to come to a compromise.

Grandparents can strengthen families in ways that parents alone sometimes cannot. They can also support lessons that the parents are teaching children.

  • As a care-taker

While some grandparents in the family are full-time care providers for grandchildren, but in most families grandparents fill in the gaps. You need someone at home who can step in when the regular child-care plan breaks down, as in the case of a sick child to be left with a stranger. Most parents can only afford part-time daycare, so grandparents take the child the rest of the day till the parents comes home. They are always ready to help out in case of need.

  • As a student

While grandparents have lots to teach their grandchildren, they have many valuable lessons to learn about, and from them also. Grandparents can become students by joining grandparenting groups, taking classes, reading grandparenting books and magazines, besides listening to what grandchildren have to teach them.

Grandchildren can teach grandparents about keeping up with new inventions and ideas to help them grow and change, which is the key to remaining youthful and vibrant. Grandchildren also get a sense of self-worth and empowerment by teaching grandparents new things and sharing a bit of their life and culture with them.

Something that grandparents in the family should think about is to have the courage to be honest with their own children. They shouldn’t let themselves get pushed into a child-care arrangement that they don’t really want, and should clarify things as to why they are doing this. Grandparents need to sort out any kind of resentment they may have so that they don’t feel they are being taken for granted.

The role of grandparents in the family also includes having open discussions with their children. They can do this by sharing a meal or a cup of coffee with them, to share anything about their grandchildren that may need attention. Discuss their progress, fill each other in on what’s going on, plan activities, and come up with new ideas together. Instead of letting the days drift by, plan one activity for each day so that the days are not monotonous.

Grandchildren bring energy, love, optimism, laughter, youthfulness, and purpose to the lives of grandparents in the family. Similarly, the role of grandparents in the family is also to provide knowledge, maturity, stability, and unconditional love to the lives of their grandchildren.

Take some time way and think about your grandparents, which of these roles did they fulfill in your family? Were your experiences with your grandparents positive or negative? What role of grandparents in the family did your grandparents play for you?

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  1. The role of grandparents in the family is a complex and multifaceted one that has evolved over time. In traditional societies, grandparents often played a central role in the upbringing of children, providing support and guidance to parents and serving as a source of wisdom and experience.

    Today, the role of grandparents in the family is more varied and dependent on a number of factors, including cultural traditions, family dynamics, and geographic location. However, despite these differences, grandparents continue to play an important role in the lives of many families.

  2. Can’t describe my feelings after reading this Harleena. I can relate myself with this so much when i see my son with his grandparents. I was so lucky to spend my childhood with my grandmother who taught us so much on how to respect elders, why you should celebrate every festival irrespective of religion. My son celebrates every festival only because of this teaching which i am trying to inculcate into him. It hurts sometimes when i see kids being left at day care centers and leaving their kids with maids, and then they consult experts for their problems. I try my best to educate my friends on this. Thanks once again for writing on this subject.

  3. Came to know through my paper mentioned “News for Elders” in

    Thanks. Number of unusual points covered. Taking the privilege of circulating it among my friends in web group sss-global on Yahoo.

  4. Harleena –

    Your heart really went into this one, I can tell. Becoming a grandparent has been the most rewarding period in my life. I was very close with my own grandma and have used our relationship as a model for loving my 2 girls. In that aspect, I am a historian who tells them about the strong women in our family. My grandmother graduated from nursing school in the 20’s and encouraged me to finish college. The dual role there is to educate them about working hard to accomplish goals.

    Your list of the various roles that we play are spot on! It is important to know that the spiritual values I embrace have a lasting effect on my girls.

    Ultimately, I am the student who learns about love and life from them. I’m thankful that their mom is like you in that she encourages our relationship.

    What an important blog this is. The more I read, the more I admire you!

    Karen Hoyt

    1. Hi Karen,

      Yes, you are right – it surely did 🙂

      I can so well understand how you can relate to this post being a wonderful grandparent yourself. I think the amount grandparents can pass on to their grandchildren, and children too, no one else can.

      I’ve lived with my grandparents for a few years when I was young, and so have my kids with theirs, so these are the very things I’v learnt along the way, and I know they ALL work in making us better people. And the role of grandparents is an important one there.

      Yes indeed, if we encourage our kids to take fondly to their grandparents, there is no question of the grandkids not learning from their grandparents, isn’t it? The values of respect start right with them 🙂

      Thanks so much for stopping by here today, and for your kind words of appreciation 🙂

  5. Hi,

    You have described the role of grand parents in logical manner. It’s us how we use their blessings and experience to live hassle free. No doubt that they have quiet good experience of ups and downs.They took care of us when we were child and contemporary they tackled with situations which is important for us.

    They are god and we must love and respect them to get blessings.

    Nice share,

    1. Hi Mic,

      Sorry for the late reply to this comment – seems to have slipped my mind 🙂

      Yes indeed, their blessings we always need and they DO matter, don’t they? I guess having ben on the same path as we are on now, they are so well experienced and know the ways of life. I don’t think anyone can guide us better. They are very much like God, and we should care and respect them 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes. I haven’t met any of my grandparents except my dad’s mum whom we called Amma. My mom lost her parents early in life. And my dad’s father passed soon after my parents marriage. We lost Amma during my first year in college and it was very tragic; she was a wonderful human being and I would have to say yes to every point you mention here! Not only do they have the best of stories they have the best of life lessons and that makes every day interesting.

    Also, they pamper us to no extent and what else does a kid need! A lot of pampering, the best of food and the best of gifts out of no occasion! I miss Amma so much! 🙁

    1. Sorry for the tears Hajra!

      Nice to learn more about your grandparents, though sad that you didn’t really have the chance of meeting all of them. They are truly a blessing for the family.

      I have fond memories of my grandparents, though I lost them when I was young. Those memories somehow remain ever so fresh. I still remember my Grandmother making goodies days in advance so that we could carry it back home with us, and her pickles were awesome!

      Yes indeed, their stories, their experiences, their gifts, their pampering, love and affection, and their care for the minutest of details for our well being has no words.

      We do miss them Hajra, but I feel the people we lose in our lives, don’t really leave or go away. They remain around, about us, as our guardian angles. Just as my mother, who I can feel around me so often.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences with everyone, always a pleasure to have you over 🙂

      1. Oh yes the pickels, the chutneys and the papads and all! 🙂 You just had my mouth watering! 😉

        Yes, I believe in them being our guardian angels… beautiful! 🙂

        1. They sure are mouth watering, and the taste still remains 🙂

          I do believe that the ones we are close to, always stay beside us through thick and thin- as our guardian angels.

          Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  7. Hi Harleena,

    Thank you for this fine post on grandparents. I think this comes at a right time for me and my wife. See, we have a love hate relationship with our parents. On the one hand we gravely need their care giving help as we work. But at the same time, they have their old mindset and ways of bring up children which often contradicts our modern way of parenting.

    If we can, we would love to be on our own. But one thing that is also holding us back is the fact that the kids seem to love them all without conditions, just as the adults love them without conditions. Sigh.. sometimes, it feels so difficult to live with them in our lives.

    But your post is one of encouragements and fine pointers for us as children to honor our parents.

    1. Glad you liked the post Jimmy!

      Your situation is such a common problem with people I have come across as well. We do have our own way of bringing up kids our own way, though our parents have their old mindsets and it does become tough at times to ask them to do as we want. More-so, when your kids are so attached to your parents there is nothing much you can do or say as well.

      I guess another way could be that you sit down with your parents and explain your view point to them, take their suggestions, and chalk out a middle path where the ideas and views of both sides can be implemented for the betterment of the children. I am sure things would work out, after all they are your parents and are only wanting to help, and their presence and blessings would surely go a long way.

      Thanks for stopping-by. 🙂

  8. Hi Harleena,

    Another wonderful post. I can only speak from experience when it comes to my grandparents.

    We didn’t live close to either set. My mother’s parents lived closer but that didn’t mean we visited more. My Dad’s parents lived over eight hours away and his father passed away when I was just five. I never knew him but the remainder of my grandparents all lived to be 87, 90 and 98. If you can believe this, they all passed away the same year too, within months of each other. That was hard on all of us.

    I wouldn’t say I was close to any of them. Oh, they loved us and were there for us but I never had heart to heart conversations with them, they never taught me anything and they weren’t overly affectionate. I know they all loved me but I have also learned that they never received affection from their own parents so it was hard to show it to their own kids, let alone their grandkids. But that’s okay, we loved going to visit them and always had fun while we were there. We visited them both twice a year religiously.

    I know that with divorce and how split some families are that it’s much harder these days to have relationships with the grandparents. I’m just thankful we aren’t dealing with any of that in my immediate family. Yep, I’m definitely blessed.


    1. Glad you liked the post Adrienne!

      Nice to learn more about your grandparents and the wonderful time you shared with them, it sure must have been a learning experience, as they did live to such remarkable long ages! But their loss, as you mentioned that occurred all within months of each other, must have truly been hard and a trying time for you and your family.

      I guess you raised a very important point here about showing affection. It is indeed noticed that those who receive love and affection, pass it on to their own kids and grandchildren, while those who don’t receive love, affection, or that warmth don’t know about it, thus it is not passed on to their kids, let alone their grandchildren. However, I know of a few grandchildren, who instilled these missing values in their grandparents or parents- and it did work!

      What grandparents feel for their grandchildren and the way they dote on them is truly amazing, and the reason is that they have more free time now away from their job or work to devote, than they did earlier when they may have been working.

      I think either ways, grandchildren will always love their grandparents for who and what they are. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with the readers and adding so much value to the post . It is indeed a pleasure to have you stop-by and comment on the posts. 🙂

    1. The commentluv plugin is sure something that is picking up a great deal and it does have lots of advantages ( as you can see the link on the right side of the blog)- the video explains it further- though I doubt it can be used on Blogspot- which was another reason for me to switch to a WordPress blog. You too could shift to a WordPress blog if you like, as it sure does have more plus points than Blogspot- having experienced both sides!

      Thanks once again 🙂

  9. I loved this post, Harleena!

    I am the age where I can relate to it on different levels. I had a wonderful grandmother who I often mention in my blogs. My own mother was a good grandmother to my children, and now my husband and I are grandparents to one, so far 🙂 I agree that times are changing. When I was a little girl, we lived on the family farm with my grandmother. And it was a very traditional thing–to have a grandparent babysit while the parents worked on the farm–or away from home as in my case.

    Now, our granddaughter goes to daycare and preschool (she is almost four) and her life is so busy we have to plan ahead to have time with her. And how we cherish it! And the way she behaves, I think she cherishes it as well. I think that when the universe is working right, grandparents provide stability in a world that seems wild and unsure at times for today’s young children.

    Great post 🙂 Love the new site, by the way 🙂

    1. Welcome back to the new updated blog Teresa- it sure is nice of you to stop-by and comment!

      So glad you could relate to the post! Yes, our days were so very different- so was our upbringing. I think those were the real carefree days with no tensions, headaches, worries- as they were less complicated and we did lead a much simpler life.

      I can so well relate to the time you spent with your granny at the farm- it was the same with me as well- and we used to get lost in the fields and just loved being at her place- not wanting to return home. But the things are so very different with our kids. They hardly have the time to sit with us and remain ever so busy with their chores and home-works or assignments! I really do wonder what it will be like when I become a grandmother- by then I would surely need an official appointment with my grandchildren if I need to meet them (lol!!)

      Yes you are so right, the stability does come from the elders at home- and no one can be better than grandparents at that as they have seen so much of life and are so experienced in all aspects. So glad you liked the blog as well- it has a lot of meaning coming from you!

      Thanks once again for your valuable comment and insight 🙂

  10. Hello Harleena,

    What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.

    And a house needs a grandma in it.
    You have a nice day, and keep a song in your heart.

    1. Welcome to my blog Lee!

      You are so right about grandparents- they sure shower all the goodies on their grandchildren, and their love is never ending. And of course, Grandmas always play a special role, though Grandpas are no less!

      Thanks for commenting 🙂

  11. I often think that grandparents strive to be closer to their Grandchildren as they have missed something when they are upbringing their own children.

    I have seen this a lot of times. There are simple things that Grandparents wished they had done with their kids when they were little. Maybe its because of work or other things that draws a lot of time from family.

    Good post and I love your Genesis-powered blog! I myself have got Genesis recently.

    1. Welcome to my blog Ramcel!

      I totally agree with your point of Grandparents being closer to their Grandchildren in most cases, rather than their own children. And yes, a major cause is also because of the lack of time on their part due to work or other factors, which they well compensate in their older years by being closer to their Grandchildren.

      Glad you liked the the new blog though there are some more changes in the pipeline! Thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂

    1. Thanks for your appreciation and affection. I’m setting up a new WordPress theme presently, do come again in a few days and I’m sure you’ll enjoy more 🙂

  12. Welcome to my blog Misalsa! Nice to learn about you and your beautiful grandchildren, they sure have a doting grandmother. And yes, life is all about making the right balance and adjustments.

    Thanks for sharing, and do visit the blog again 🙂

  13. Great post! I am a grandmother of three beautiful girls and a budding blogger on the subject. I think we strive for balance in our relationships with children and grands, learn to mind our business and offer advice when asked; in the meantime enjoy the babies as often as we can. The best gift I got was a webcam!

  14. So nice to hear that Vishal! Am sure you cherish them and those memories fondly 🙂

    Thanks for commenting, and do visit the blog again!

  15. I am blessed that my relation with ma granpa is like friend… Thanks for the beautiful article..

  16. Welcome to my blog Bill, and am glad you liked the post!

    Yes, we all are students in some way or the other- always learning something new from each other. Similarly, grandparents too would be good students if they are willing to learn something new, which would in a way- rejuvenate them!

    Thanks for sharing your your experiences and link regarding your grandparents. Do visit the blog again for more stuff 🙂

  17. Glad you could relate to the post Adrienne, and yes, it sure is a blessing to have grandparents!

    They are mostly the ones with hidden treasures and goodies for the grandchildren, and we all love visiting them. I miss my grandparents too, whom I lost years ago.

    I totally agree with your lines about our parents not being attentive towards us, as their parents were not towards them- this does make a lot of difference, and is so very true.

    I guess, we learn new lessons at each phase of our lives, and just the fact that your parents weren't as attentive towards you, makes you realize this fact, and am sure you change that with your own kids !

    Thanks for your valuable comment 🙂

  18. Wow, you really covered all areas that grandparents can and do play a role in their grandchildren's lives.

    I guess you could say I wasn't that close to either of my grandparents, we only visited them once a year. My parents had to take turns because neither of them lived close to us so with three children in the family, it was an adventure to go to my grandparents house.

    But as a kid I loved it because we always got things there that we didn't at home. We were by no means spoiled so I don't mean it in that way, we just were introduced to different things at their home. One lived way out in the country and we lived close to the city.

    Neither one of my sets of grandparents were overly attentive to us kids so there wasn't any special bonding going on but we all loved them so much anyway. As the years wore on, I understood why my parents weren't very attentive towards us. They never received that from their own parents.

    Thanks for bringing this us and for helping me remember mine. They have all been gone now over 20 years but I have pictures of them all on my wall. They will always remain in my heart.

  19. Am so glad you could relate to the post Deeone!

    Yes, grandparents can do wonders to the lives of their grandchildren, provided they are allowed to, and the parents are connected to them.

    Nice to learn about your grandmother stepping in the shoes of your mom, and that is what made you what you are today!

    Thanks for your valuable comment 🙂

  20. Hi Harleena,

    I personally loved this post.

    It reminded me of how lucky I was to have my maternal grandmother apart of my life.

    She was all of those things you listed above for me. She stepped in my life, when my mother was unable to see the importance of being a mother to me. It's because of my grandmother that I am the man that I am today.

    Although she hasn't been here with me for 6 years now, her lessons are very much apart of my life, in my mind and in my heart.

    Thank you for bringing her memory back to me this morning. 🙂

  21. That is also a major factor that distances the kids from their grandparents. However, it totally depends upon what steps the parents take to get their kids close to their grandparents, as it always starts from there.

    Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting 🙂

  22. hi harleena, it's true that grandparents are not necessarily close to their grandchildren, mainly due to divorces- like one side is close and the other side is not…depending on who brought up the children.
    if taken care by the mother, these children will be close to their maternal grandparents,but, usually not to the other side.

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