In an age when approximately 60 per cent of childcare provision in the UK is provided by grandparents, their role can have a huge impact on a child's well being. However, grandparenting today can have its own challenges, as Jackie Highe explains here:
Becoming a grandparent is the most wonderful gift thatgrowing older can bring you. I love it. It transforms your life. But it isn’t always a cake-walk. Today it brings challenges our own grandparents never thought of.
Sure we’re younger, fitter, living longer. But many of us are still working – some full-time – so we’re doing the same balancing act with our grandchildren as we did with our children. The ‘have it all’ generation has still got it all – and is still juggling with it!
The financial crisis has squeezed us all till the pips squeak, and our children are working flat out to make ends meet. But often so are we. Maybe we’re on our second tier family, teenagers and all, and still paying off a mortgage. So helping with grandchild care can be a physical, financial and emotional stretch. And we might be caring for our elderly parents – they’re living longer too.
And if your children are divorced or separated, then naturally you’re going to want to be there for your grandchildren. But the law still doesn’t give you any legal right of access to them if the custodial parent doesn’t want you to have it. The government’s new rules only give you the right to have access considered as part of the process. It’s a step in the right direction and better than nothing, but don’t pop the champagne.
Grandparents can face some hard choices about their own future – nursery fees versus retirement; holidays, or maybe even health, versus full-time childcare. It doesn’t detract from the joy or the love you feel, but it does add to the stress.
And families are spread out round the world these days, too. How do you maintain contact and closeness across oceans?
That’s why I wrote The Modern Grandparents’ Guide – to give support, reassurance and advice. And not just for the enormous issues. It’s about all the other stuff that hasn’t changed down the generations – discipline, spoiling, interference . . .
It’s also why I’m glad to be involved in Grannynet.co.uk, a website aimed at helping grandparents with the problems, big and small, that come their way. It will give me the opportunity to answer their questions, give them food for thought.
Jackie Highe is an experienced, hands-on grandmother to five granddaughters. Formerly editor-in-chief of Bella magazine, she is the author of two books: Now, Where Did I Put My Glasses? and The Modern Grandparents' Guide. Jackie has recently taken on the role of agony aunt for the popular grandparenting website www.Grannynet.co.uk. The Modern Grandparents' Guide is available to buy from Piatkus priced at £8.99.
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