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The Australian Seniors Series: Raising Modern Australia Survey 2017

It goes without saying that grandparents play a pivotal role in the lives of their grandchildren. They are pillars of support, love and generosity, and more often than not bestow these qualities to the wider family. Being parents themselves, they usually possess an array of skills and experience in raising children, which is why it’s no surprise that the next generation seeks support and advice from them when grandchildren come along.

Yet, in today’s constantly evolving world even the roles and responsibilities involved in ‘grandparenting’ continue to change and this can impact on the wider family dynamic. The eighth instalment of ‘The Australian Seniors Series’ explores the shifting attitudes and roles of grandparents today, and analyses the concerns and emerging trends that affect grandparents in modern Australian society.

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Rolling with the times

The grandparent role differs between all families in Australia, yet close to half of seniors agree that teaching their grandchildren life skills, values and wisdom comes with the territory (45.1%). Similarly, two in five grandparents agree they have a duty to teach their grandchildren manners (43.7%).

Being a grandparent isn’t always an easy task, and more than half admit to regularly playing the role of babysitter for their grandchildren (48.6%). Despite this there are plenty of perks in being a grandparent, with over half agreeing that one of their main tasks is enjoying fun activities with their grandkids (55.0%).

Which grandparent are you?

As well as diversity between grandparent roles there is also huge variance in the styles of grandparenting that grandmothers and grandfathers adopt. According to the research, a third of Australian grandparents identify themselves as ‘The Grandbuddy’, where spending time with their grandchildren is all fun, no work, and full of adventures (32.9%).

With that said, just under a quarter identify themselves as ‘The LD (long distance) Grandie’, in which grandchildren are too physically distant for grandparents to see them regularly and therefore rely on Skype, phone and social media to stay in touch (23.8%). Further to this, one in five grandparents describe themselves as ‘The Surrogate Grandparent’, whereby grandparents regularly act as full-time babysitter, chef or ‘taxi-service’ (22.9%).

Despite the varying types of grandparenting styles that seniors identify with, there is consistency in that nine in ten enjoy a laid-back relationship with their grandchildren and acknowledge the special bond they share.

Child-raising can raise tempers

Parenting doesn’t come with a ‘how to’ guide or a formula for success, which is why people often turn to their own parents for advice on how to raise children. Yet seemingly helpful advice to parents can be met with animosity, and around a third of grandparents admit they have disagreed with their children on how to best raise the grandkids (35.9%). Just over a quarter of grandparents also admit they have disagreed with their sons-in-law or daughters-in-law on the sensitive topic of child-rearing (28.7%). Interestingly, views around discipline standards and eating rituals cause the most disagreements between grandparents and parents with regards to raising children (58.7% and 48.8% respectively).

Regardless of the sensitivities or tensions that may exist between parents and grandparents when it comes to raising grandchildren, it can’t be denied just how special grandparents are within the family unit. Grandparents are often the glue that holds the family together, and provide the necessary level of support and life experience for shaping grandchildren into healthy, happy adults.

Stay tuned for the next chapter of the Australian Seniors Series… A report for seniors, by Seniors.


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