New Parenting practices and what they mean for grandchildren.

When l started thinking about this title l became aware that l was brought up in a world where there were no ‘parenting styles’ and my friend’s parents were either strict, lenient, friendly or maybe distant.

I guess l became more aware of parenting styles as my own children developed, although this was nothing like the hot topic it is today.

Reading this back, it is even more obvious how parenting styles, and what is expected, is shifting generation by generation. It also seems like hard work with ‘perfect parenting’ being yet another thing we can judge and compare each other by.

New parenting styles and grand parenting

As I’ve touched on in some of our other blogs, most grandparents want a great relationship with their grandchildren, and recognise early on this may mean they have to keep quiet about parenting styles they don’t agree with. After all, it is generally the parents who are the primary caregivers.

However, l am going to consider this from a different viewpoint this time. How can parenting styles affect the grandchildren, and what do grandparents think about this?

According to the most recent research, there are six common parenting styles.

I think it is easy to see our parents, ourselves and those friends who stand out as having different styles to our own.

 Instinctive Parenting

This could also be described as ‘going with your gut feel’ and teaching what you know. So, primarily being influenced by the way you were parented. It is an individual way of parenting.

Attachment Parenting

Parents who adopt this style will let their child take the lead. The parents respond to their child’s needs quickly and will always be there emotionally for them. The goal is to form strong emotional bonds and the belief is this attachment will help the child be more secure, empathetic and peaceful.

Helicopter Parenting

Parents who constantly interfere and feel the need to be involved in their children’s lives.

Authoritative Parenting

Typically, parents who adopt this style establish rules and guidelines and expect the children to follow them. Nowadays this is more about asserting discipline and less about punishment or restrictions.

Permissive Parenting

Parents adopting this style are often referred to as indulgent and non-traditional as they rarely discipline and make few demands of their children.

Intensive Parenting

This is another new styles and appears to be even more child centred, time intensive and involved than anything before. No wonder we seem to always be reading about parents who are stressed and finding life difficult. It certainly sounds like hard work!

What does this mean for grandchildren?

Over the past two generations the styles of parenting have shifted quite dramatically, so there is plenty of scope for friction between parents and grandparents.

It is easy to assume we may all become instinctive parents, but what if we instinctively knew our own parents hadn’t understood us, and we feel they could have done a better job? Surely, these parents are likely to seek out new parenting styles and possibly even go for something opposite to the experiences they had.

I haven’t got any personal experience of this, but l can quite see how someone growing up in a completely authoritative environment could become a permissive parent, and how the grandparents would possibly fear their grandchild won’t learn boundaries, understand discipline and may have an unrealistic sense of entitlement.

There are certainly many reported articles which state grandparents are worried about nurtured traits within their grandchildren. Things like being less self-sufficient, less disciplined, less capable, less independent and less resilient.

So, how can a grandparent help without interfering with parenting styles?

When spending one to one time with your grandchild or grandchildren it can be possible to nurture them in your own way which can simply be part of your relationship and won’t interfere with their parents wishes.

If, for example you believe learning to fail is an important life skill which teaches resilience, determination and a healthy self-regard. It is highly likely when you see grandchildren who are weighed under intense pressure, often exerted by themselves, the beginnings of anxiety or perfectionism appearing then you may want to become more of an influencer. Without undermining the parents, it is possible to teach different life skills. Remember our children and grandchildren are being taught life skills at school as well as through organisations like Scouts and Guides. So, it is an area of positive influence all grandparents can undertake, especially when it comes from a secure position of love and trust. These lessons can be very powerful, and introducing new, fun games which are impossible to win can be a great challenge for all!

In summary,

l would imagine there will be a lot of grandparents out there who wince at certain parenting styles nowadays and wish there were more freedom and enjoyment involved. However, by not commenting and allowing a different outlook, you might end up with an even more fun role. As a grandparent perhaps you have more financial freedom, more free time, can be more relaxed and can also see difficulties arise from a distance, maybe even before the parents have recognised it. One of the most supportive roles a grandparent can offer is to be an unheard prop in the background. If you see something going wrong, then silently do something to help. The people who benefit first are the grandchild and grandparent. That bond will get stronger as the whole family becomes more stable. We’re back to the grandparents being a popular and welcome addition rather than an interference!

So, although you may not have been an ‘intensive parent’ and may have let your children play outside all day, there are still fun and safe ways to teach independence and resilience if you have time on your hands. Perhaps we’ll look at some fun ways to do this in time for the Easter holidays.

Here at Snuggle Sac, we hear often from grandparents and their experiences with young children. We are grateful for what you do and proud when our Snuggle Sacs help you out even a little bit. Sign up to our mailing list below for our Snuggle Sac for Grandparents newsletter, full of helpful articles and ideas for activities with your grandchildren.

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