People who make better grandparents than parents often display these behaviors

We all look to our elders for wisdom, but sometimes the best guides are the ones who had their fair share of stumbles in life.

You may see a person you know – it could be a relative, a friend, or even yourself – who had a challenging time as a parent, yet they seem to shine brightly as a grandparent. It’s an intriguing paradox that invites exploration.

What makes someone a better grandparent than they were a parent? Is it the passage of time, the lessons learned from past mistakes or simply a change in perspective?

After observing numerous relationships and gathering insights from various life experiences, I’ve compiled a list of behaviors that are often displayed by those who make better grandparents than parents. 

If these characteristics ring true, it may be an enlightening way to understand these fascinating transformations. 

1) They have learned to embrace patience 

One of the most fundamental changes you may notice in those who make better grandparents than parents is a newfound sense of patience.

As parents, they may have often felt rushed, overwhelmed, or on edge – a common consequence of trying to balance work, personal life, and child-rearing. This constant pressure could have led to short tempers and snap decisions.

However, as grandparents, they seem to have learned the art of patience. The urgency that once punctuated their parenting has been replaced with a calm and steady rhythm. They take time to listen, to understand, and to guide their grandchildren gently.

This change can be attributed to a range of factors – retirement might have freed up their time, or perhaps the wisdom of age has taught them that patience often yields more fruitful results. 

Regardless of the cause, this newfound patience often makes them more approachable and understanding, fostering a deeper bond with their grandchildren.

2) They may not have been the ‘fun’ parent

Ironically, those who were seen as strict or serious parents often emerge as the most fun-loving and jovial grandparents.

As parents, they might have been focused on setting boundaries, enforcing rules, and instilling discipline. Their children might remember them as the strict disciplinarian, the parent who said ‘no’ more often than ‘yes’.

Yet, as grandparents, they seem to be full of fun and laughter. They’re the ones inventing games, spoiling their grandkids with treats, and generally indulging in all the fun activities they once discouraged as parents.

This change can be quite surprising for those who remember their stern demeanor as parents. 

But it makes sense when you think about it. Freed from the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting and secure in the knowledge that their children have grown up into responsible adults, they can now relax and enjoy the lighter side of life with their grandchildren. 

This unexpected transformation often makes them incredibly popular among their grandkids.

3) They show more empathy

In their parenthood stage, they could have been more focused on tangible outcomes – grades, accomplishments, and milestones. They might have overlooked the emotional needs of their children in the quest for achievement.

However, as grandparents, they appear to prioritize emotional connection over accomplishments. 

They are more in tune with their grandchildren’s feelings and show a greater understanding of their emotions. They offer comfort during difficult times and celebrate small joys with heartfelt enthusiasm.

This could be because they now have the benefit of hindsight. They realize that emotional well-being is just as important as achievements – if not more so. 

This empathetic approach allows them to form deep, meaningful relationships with their grandchildren, making them exceptional grandparents.

4) They embrace their role as storytellers

In their parenting years, they might have been too caught up in the hustle and bustle of life to share personal anecdotes or family tales.

However, as grandparents, they revel in the role of the storyteller, spinning tales of their youth, family history, or even stories of their grandchild’s parent when they were young.

This is more than just a delightful way to pass time. Storytelling plays a crucial role in human communication and connection. It’s been said that stories are one of the most powerful ways to impart values, build empathy, and strengthen bonds – making them an invaluable tool in a grandparent’s arsenal.

Their willingness to share stories – whether funny, inspiring, or poignant – often endears them to their grandchildren, helping to create a rich tapestry of shared memories and lessons.

5) They own up to their past mistakes

People who make better grandparents People who make better grandparents than parents often display these behaviors

During their parenting years, they might have made decisions or acted in ways they now regret. They may have been too harsh, too distant, or too wrapped up in their own problems. Back then, admitting these shortcomings might have been difficult, if not impossible.

However, as grandparents, they seem to have shed any pretense. They openly admit their past errors and share how they’ve learned from them. They don’t shy away from these conversations but use them as teachable moments for their grandchildren.

This honest acknowledgment of their fallibility not only helps them connect better with their grandchildren but also teaches the younger generation a valuable lesson – that it’s okay to make mistakes and what truly matters is the ability to learn and grow from them.

6) They seem less concerned about being liked

An unexpected quality in those who make better grandparents than parents is their apparent indifference to being liked.

During their years as parents, they might have grappled with wanting to be both a friend and an authority figure to their children. The desire to be liked by their children could have led to inconsistent rules and blurred boundaries.

However, as grandparents, they seem less concerned with being popular. They’re comfortable setting boundaries and saying ‘no’ when necessary, without the fear of damaging their relationship with their grandchildren.

This might sound counterproductive, but it often works in their favor. 

Children – whether they admit it or not – crave structure and consistency. Knowing where they stand and what’s expected of them can actually make them feel more secure. 

This clear, confident approach often earns them respect and admiration from their grandchildren, even if they don’t always agree with them.

7) They show a greater appreciation for time

A commendable quality that often shines in those who make better grandparents than parents is their deep appreciation for time.

During their parenthood, they may have been constantly juggling responsibilities, always looking ahead to the next task, the next milestone, the next phase of life. They might have been so focused on the future that they overlooked the beauty of the present.

But as grandparents, they seem to cherish each moment. They’re not in a hurry anymore. They take time to enjoy simple pleasures – a shared laugh, a quiet walk, a bedtime story.

This change can be heartwarming to witness. Their ability to slow down and savor the moment enhances their relationship with their grandchildren. It teaches them to appreciate the here and now – a lesson that is valuable in today’s fast-paced world.

Understanding the transformation

It’s fascinating to observe the transformation in individuals who seem to shine more as grandparents than they did as parents. This metamorphosis is not just about changing roles; it’s a profound shift in perspective, attitude, and behavior.

One key factor behind this change is the luxury of time and the absence of daily pressures. 

As parents, individuals are often caught in the whirlwind of responsibilities – career, household chores, parenting duties, and more. 

These obligations can be overwhelming and leave little room for patience, empathy, or the simple joys of parenthood.

However, as grandparents, many of these pressures are lifted. They have more time to spend with their grandchildren without worrying about running a household or building a career. 

This freedom allows them to engage more deeply with their grandchildren, understand their world, and contribute positively to it.

Another crucial aspect is the wisdom that comes with age. 

Life experiences – both good and bad – impart valuable lessons that can lead to personal growth. People often become more reflective as they age, acknowledging their past mistakes, learning from them, and using these insights to guide their interactions with their grandchildren.

Lastly, there’s an emotional depth that comes with being grandparents. They’ve experienced the highs and lows of raising children; they’ve celebrated victories and weathered storms. 

Each phase of life comes with its own challenges and rewards. The mistakes made during parenthood are not failures but stepping stones leading to growth and self-improvement.

This wealth of experience often makes them more empathetic, patient, and understanding – qualities that are invaluable in building strong relationships with their grandchildren.

In this ever-evolving journey of life, those who make better grandparents than parents showcase an inspiring lesson: It’s never too late to learn, grow, and become the best version of oneself.

Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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