From spare nappy-changer, through comforter, spoiler and bringer of wisdom, grandparents can play a role from day one. Devoted gogo, bubbe or ouma offer children a broader range of knowledge, emotions and experience than they did as parents. As do tatamkhulu, zayde and oupa.
They are trusted adults, but if they are not involved in the day-to-day grind of childcare, bring a breath of fresh air for both parent and child. They may offer advice and perspective, or simply a moment of peace when things between parent and child are going through a rough patch.
According to Dr Arthur Kornhaber, president and founder of the Foundation for Grandparenting, there are certain roles grandparents play in a family. Among these are the natural roles of nurturer and provider that any parent will fulfil.
In addition, as members of the older generation, grandparents are a link to the past, to our family history and our ancestors. Their stories may be interesting or amusing, but they also bring history to life.
Grandparents are often more patient when it comes to sharing knowledge. While the grandparent may bring knowledge and teach skills to the grandchild, it’s also wonderful when older people take on the role of student. What could be cuter than knowledgeable 7-year-old giving SMS lessons to a doting gran?
Grandparents may also have more time and patience to indulge the fantasy world children love. This role Kornhaber describes as the Wizard. A willing grandparent can make imaginary worlds come true, just by suspending their disbelief (and perhaps wearing the odd sparkly crown!)
What role do grandparents play in your child’s life?