Grandparents and their peers are recasting what it means to be a grandparent in the early 21st century.
"Baby-Sit? Maybe Next Time.'
By Karen Hube
But there was one exception: "No regular baby-sitting," says Mr. Bissell, age 72, who retired from his full-time position at a marketing and consulting firm in 2001.
The reason? "We're busy people," says Mr. Bissell, who works part time and enjoys travel.
The Bissells and their peers are recasting what it means to be a grandparent in the early 21st century. Gone are the days of rocking chairs and compliant 60- and 70-somethings ...
Whenever I read the words rocking chair and grandparent in the same sentence, I have to erase the old image. The rocking chair brings to mind that high backed wood thing with an uncomfortable tufted cushion that takes up too much room, slips around on the tile floor and has just enough room for a medium size adult and an infant. At a couple of months old, the baby's head is usually bumping into the wooden arms. These days grandparents who are rocking the baby are probably sitting in gliders with soft ottomans at their feet. My grandma glider is in my bedroom and has been for years taking on the job as a nighttime catch-all for throw pillows and the clothes I wore that day. It has been recasted.
Let's look at 'recasting.' I can count on one hand the number of times one of my grandmas babysat for us. She was a working gal. My maternal granny was more available for making memories in my life during my first five years, then she had other grandchildren with which to divide up her time, in addition to having her leisure time. My mother never babysat for my children, she lived two thousand miles away. My husband's mother babysat, but only occasionally.
I wonder if the grandparenting role hasn't always been an individual choice. Circumstances seem to rule the role. Those circumstances for some may be travel, jobs, distance, creative pursuits, poor health, great health or other grandchildren.
The role of a grandparent does not come with a 'to do ' list. Some of us are like the PTO parents, hoverer's by nature, but others are not, and some are not 'child friendly' at all. It's not the 'job', at least in our culture for the grandparents to punch in and make sure the child is getting all they need. This is of course true if the four D's have not touched the life of the child, that is, death, divorce, drugs, and I can't remember the fourth. It might be devastation. Even if one or more of these has ravaged the child's home, a grandparent may not be able to or willing to become the 'parent.'
It may be that being a grandparent turns us into daily recasters.
We can say "yes" when we want to be the babysitter and "no" when we don't. We often say "yes" because of that other innate characteristic of being a grandparent and that is being so head over heels in love with our grandchildren (and wanting to help our own child.) Still, we have the option and the necessity of setting our boundaries with our children.
This is something I have to work on most of the time, that is remembering and verbalizing my boundaries, so everybody knows what to expect from me.
I might have to subscribe to the Wall Street Journal Online to find out the writer's conclusion. If someone out there has it I would appreciate a copy of it. You can email it to me. My email is in the Profile.
But if you can't send it I understand. I know you're busy.