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Weekly Reader 2.20.10

The Role of Grandparents

As long as we are on the subject of grandparents:  Two recent articles looked at the role of grandparents from different ends of the spectrum.  In a  New York Times parenting blog piece,  author Allison Gilbert was interviewed about her new book, “Parentless Parents: How the Loss of Our Parents Impacts the Way We Raise Our Children.”

While many baby boomers mourn the loss of their own parents, in the meantime they have become grandparents themselves.  While delighted to share in their grandchildren’s lives many might not always realize the importance of that role, as Ms. Gilbert points out in the Times interview.  She speaks about the critical role grandparents play in children’s development:

Scientists have proven that grandparents shape practically every facet of a child’s development. They pass on passions for music and movies, they tell stories about their own past and the lives of ancestors, and they teach certain skills grandchildren may otherwise never learn…. It’s even been determined that children tend to have better social skills and fewer behavioral problems if they spend time with their grandparents.

And it’s not only the toddlers and grader schoolers who need grandparents.  Older children also benefit from the unconditional love, Ms. Gilbert says:

When kids hit their tweens and teens and start distancing themselves from their parents, or having trouble at home, grandmothers and grandfathers often provide a treasured refuge. Older children view grandparents as allies, who often understand them better than their own parents.

Her words were echoed by Austin Daily Herald columnist  Wallace Alcorn in “Grandparents and Parents Should Help One Another.”  Mr. Alcorn reminds us that grandparents are not the parents, and should remember to leave the hands-on role to their adult children.  Better to think of yourself as a sounding board or “second opinion.” But grandparents, as Ms. Gilbert notes, can be a first line of support for grandchildren.  Mr. Alcorn writes:

I think this is crucial: Grandparents must always be there for their grandchildren and accept them as they are at the moment. Every child at one time or another thinks his parents don’t understand him or her. They actually know better (as we did), but it is an emotion they need to work through. When they choose to think Mom hates them (and they do so choose), they can turn to Grandma as one who would never hate them. Grandma doesn’t contradict what Mom has said or undo what she has had to do. She makes no comment. She just hugs them and says, “I love you; I always will.” And the kids understand all this

Generations and Their Gadgets

Speaking of kids and their tech toys:  A new survey from Pew Internet and American Life Project on “Generations and their Gadgets”  finds that while most of us own cells phone it’s Gen Y who actually uses all the functions, not just calling and picture-taking. Our adult children use the cell for going online, sending email, playing games, listening to music,  recording videos and texting, of course, (all without reading the manual).

As far as other gadgets,  while almost three-quarters of Gen Y own an iPod only about just about one-third of their parents  do (depending whether they are older or younger boomers).  The only category where baby boomers beat out Gen Y is for e-books readers. Maybe that because the type can be made larger for aging eyes!

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