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Giving Grandchildren Their Own Space


posted August 24th 2018



I’m a retired photography lecturer and a writer for many years. I have found that being a grandparent has been a fulfilling and loving experience that has enhanced my enjoyment of life. It’s important to stay active and immerse yourself into new things always. That’s my philosophy. I hope you enjoy reading my contributions and welcome your comments. For further work from Geoff visit:

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Grandparents are notorious for allegedly ‘spoiling’ their grandchildren. No matter that, as parents before, we were strict to the point of puritanism, when it comes to the grand-kids it seems we are as soft and pliable as marshmallow. This is not a case of should or shouldn’t; it simply is. Perhaps we felt we were too firm with our own offspring? Perhaps it is because we have mellowed with age, like fine wine or ripe cheese. Who can say?

We feel that we should be permanently on duty, like entertainers. This is not something we can keep up indefinitely. From time to time the kids just have to get on with the business of being children.

A Mirror Image?

Granddad’s in particular are often guilty of acting like mother hens, clucking around the little ones lest they slip here or trip there when we allowed our own children to leap and play with abandon. The rule seems to be, ‘no mishaps on my watch’. It’s understandable, but is it right?

There are two dangers in raising children. One is to mistakenly raising the kids in our own likeness. This happens naturally and unavoidably up to a point; we all have tics and mannerisms gleaned from our parents. Maybe though we shouldn’t impose viewpoints other than showing right from wrong. Children should not be mirror images of ourselves. They should be allowed to be individuals from the outset.

Society dictates that we wrap children in cotton wool. It seems like a day doesn’t go by without some official nanny-state pronouncement or rule. The world is full of parenting experts. That can’t be right can it? Instead of acting like some form of moveable guardrail perhaps we should allow for calculated risk and leave them alone to find out things for themselves. Nettles sting; get over it.

Let Them Be

Honestly, I’m not pontificating. I’m no expert; I make it up as I go along just like always. It simply seems to me that children should be allowed their own space. Not just for playing but also for thinking. We have noticed times when our granddaughter seems earnestly to be thinking something through. We have learned not to enquire or intervene.

As grandparents we might be too cosseting. Obviously we are concerned about possible injury and the like, having been through it all before. Perhaps what we shouldn’t do is encourage them to think that things come too easily, that awareness is someone else’s problem, by being overly generous and over-protective when they are in our charge.

Look at it as a partnership. Our children and grandchildren teach us as much about ourselves as we teach them about themselves. Importantly they teach us about tolerance. They aren’t possessions, they are individuals and as such, even when very young, they should be given, if they want to, the space to just sit quietly on their own and be themselves.

Geoff Maxted

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