My entire childhood was centred around two Grannies love and their total care. I was raised by these two wonderful women. Looking back I would say it gave me my best memories and groomed me into the lady I am today. They basically taught me everything I know, from the most basic skills, to being an independent and respectable young lady. There are some pros and cons of having your children raised by grandparents. They differ from family to family.
Different circumstances and reasons can influence the decision to leave your children under the care of your parents. Some economic, social, others involving education and peoples careers. The most common reason in our community is to seek employment or further studies in the city.
The reason I grew up with my grannies was because my mother was a sole bread winner and had to focus on work. I started living with my mother at the beginning of secondary school. By then I was already a fully grown teenager with opinions and life patterns. The one downside I realised at the beginning of staying with her was that she had to learn to get used to this new fully grown person. Whom she had no experience of living with. She was not familiar with the things that I loved, or what to say when I was upset. The simple routines are the most frustrating at the beginning.
However, the period of getting to know each other yielded a very strong bond. From that we grew to be more than mother-daughter, we became friends. There is no greater feeling than finally finding that everlasting bond with a parent/child. No relationship is more important.
-It creates a strong eternal bond between the children and their grandparents.
-It gives the grannies a purpose to live for. Statistics show that elders living with children are less likely to be depressed and live longer than ones living in solitude. What can I say; both my grannies are pushing well into their 70s and still demanding great grandchildren from me.
-It gives children a chance to grow up in a stable environment in case situations are not permitting for the parent. The best thing a parent can do for their child is provide the best home, and if not possible then find a better one.
-It allows parents a chance to find means of building a better life for themselves and the child. Child care is demanding and also costly. Maintaining a child full time at the beginning of a career can be strenuous. So with help from parents, progress can be quicker.
-It helps raise well groomed and mannered children. Grandparents are very conservative and strict.
-It compromises the bond between the mother and the child. The child grows up more attached to the grandparents as immediate care takers. The parents miss out on the most precious moments of the child’s development. Some moments are priceless and they only happen once in a child’s life. Such milestones are painful to miss out on. As Wada Kealotswe said in her post about why she’s keeping her child at home until primary school “The most rewarding thing is seeing your child learn in front of you.”
-The child’s entire beliefs and discipline is determined by the grandparents. There are always variations in opinions of how to raise children. So when the whole upbringing of your child is in the hands of someone else, you have little control on how your children turn out.
-The grandparents don’t get a chance to enjoy their retirement with the responsibility of care giving.
-Children staying with elderly people can fall behind in school because helping with school work can be challenging for grannies.
-The children miss out on modern excursions because the only activities are done with granny. I personally can’t imagine any of my grannies at a cinema or even taking a photo.
Ensuring A Strong Bond
If your child is under the care of grandparents, first you have to appreciate them more than ever. For taking responsibility of someone’s child is a great sacrifice. Second you have to ensure that you build the best possible relationship with your child, so they know and acknowledge you in their lives.
Below are some tips on ensuring an unbreakable bond with your child under granny care:
-Ensure to make scheduled and very regular visits. Make the visits memorable and something to look forward to.
-Make regular phone calls and take interest in the child and their daily activities. Give phone time total attention.
-Don’t break the trust cycle. If you say you will visit do so.
-Ensure the child visits regularly and knows your other home well, so that they get comfortable to stay there once you take over care. They should know its home too.
I personally loved and appreciate the way I was brought up. Being an only child, it gave me an experience of a big family. The cousins I grew up with became more like siblings and still remain so. We were brought up by culturally grounded women, who passed on all the traditions and expectations of their wisdom. From all their teachings and love, I grew up into the lady I am today. Did you grow up in an unconventional manner? I’d love to hear from you about what you learnt.