… and why it’s OK.
Have you ever wondered why grandparents spoil their grandchildren?
As a parent yourself, you might be wondering “Why didn’t I get this kind of treatment from my parents? Why do they give it to my child but I didn’t get it?” 🤔
I have a theory on this, and I’m fairly certain it’s correct because I’ve asked many good grandparents this and they said it’s exactly why they spoil their grandchildren …
Regret and Sadness, and Missed Opportunities
When you’re a parent, and you have no idea what you’re doing initially. Everything is a whirlwind of emotions, exhaustion, and the frantic nature of being a new parent.
You make mistakes …. A LOT OF MISTAKES. At every step of the journey.
You yell when you shouldn’t. You worked a lot during a period of their life and missed some things to provide for them. You just didn’t get to do things you wanted to do because of a lack of time, resources, or energy.
As your children start to get older you get more freedom and time back. Eventually, they get to the age where they want minimal time with you (teenage years) and then they move out as they become adults.
Around the time they start becoming teenagers (middle school) you see the ‘child’ disappear and you see a young adult. The little kid is gone. No more is the voice young and squeaky and playful. The curious sense of wonder about EVERYTHING is muted/under control/directed at particular things. They no longer want to do as many silly things with you or do all the things you used to do before. They are no longer “small kids”. You can’t talk to them like small kids, you have to treat them like young adults and help mold them into productive members of society.
That’s when it hits you.
Shit. It’s over. I didn’t get to do XYZ with them. I did ABC wrong, crap. I didn’t get to build this tradition with them that I always wanted. I didn’t get to take them to a certain theme park when they were a child and see their face full of amazement and fascination. Sure, you can take them when they’re a teenager, but it will never be the same as seeing a small child’s reaction. There’s something precious about a small child’s reaction to the amazement and wonder of the world.
Ultimately, you wish you could go back in time and “do it over” (or at least many parts of it) given what you know now. It can be a difficult time in a parent’s life as you deal with the regret and sadness that surrounds the growth of your child. It’s a bittersweet time. They’re getting older, and wiser, but you miss the younger version of them.
You wish you could relive those times with your kids, but you can’t. It’s too late, and it makes your chest heavy and your eyes damp. Even now, as I think about it, it hits me hard because there are things I wish I could have done with my children when they were young, but I did not get to.
Yes, you can always do these things later, but I think you get the picture I’m painting here – it’s not the same.
A Second Chance
This all changes when you become a grandparent.
You have the experience of being a parent. The regret and sadness of not doing something with your kids, but now …
With grandchildren, you have another opportunity to do it again. You have a second chance at this.
This is where the “spoiling” comes into play and it’s not a bad thing.
Grandparents see this as a time to get a second chance at this parenting thing but through the lens of a grandparent. They can love, care, and be there for their grandchildren in ways they could not be when they were parents themselves.
This comes across in many ways, such as emotional availability, caring, compassion, time spent with the child, monetary gifts, trips, etc.
The parent of the child often wonders “Why didn’t I get that treatment?” It’s because their parent couldn’t at the time. That and life simply didn’t work out that way. Now, for the grandparent, hindsight is 20/20. When you’re a parent – you don’t know what you don’t know … until it’s too late often. As a grandparent, you have that wisdom.
When you’re a grandparent you get a chance to have a “do-over” for something you truly were sad about, and you make sure you go all in and do it right. That goes for anything in life that you love and care about deeply.
… and that … is why grandparents spoil their grandchildren – it’s a second chance to do something right that they wish they could have done the first time.