Grandma is the most common and most natural substitute for the mother, especially when the mother is employed. Our examination of mental disorders in school children shows that among city children aged 6 to 15, every sixth child lives with a grandmother. Among our respondents of the same age, every fourth child lives in the village with their grandmother. There are certainly even more such cases among young and preschool children.
When the mother is employed, the grandmother often becomes as important an educator as the mother, and sometimes takes on the role of head educator. Most parents prefer to leave the child to the grandmother than to take it to a children’s institution. A grandmother is usually considered a very desirable member of the family when there is a child in the house, especially at a younger age. And yet harsh criticism is often heard at the expense of the grandmother and her actions. It is usually said that a grandmother – just like a grandfather – regularly pampers a child to the extreme, so it is very difficult for parents to deal with him and raise him in the right way. It is claimed that grandparents caress and serve the child satisfying all his whims much more often and to a much greater extent than the average parent does. It would almost be said that no grandmother is capable of raising a grandchild in a realistic way. Some go so far as to express the belief that most of the difficulties in raising children stem from the fact that they are mostly raised by grandmothers.
They all seem to be prejudices. Our examination of school children’s behavioral disorders shows that children living with a grandmother do not exhibit any more such disorders than those children living without a grandmother. This is equally true for our urban as well as for rural respondents. Moreover, rural children with a grandmother show a tendency to be less emotionally impaired than children without a grandmother, although the difference in the frequency of behavioral disorders in these two groups of our respondents is not statistically significant. But when we compared the frequency of mental disorders in urban children with a grandmother and in rural children with a grandmother, it turned out that these disorders are significantly more common in urban children. Here the difference is statistically very significant. From this we can conclude that village grandmothers are better educators than city grandmothers.
But much more important is the fact that our data allows us to free our grandmother from our prejudices in our modern environment. We are wrong to claim that grandmothers are better educators than parents, but it is certain that they are not worse either. The average grandparent (or grandfather) seems to make as many mistakes in dealing with children as parents do. Therefore, one should not hesitate to allow grandparents to participate in the upbringing of children. When parents are away from home, it is likely that the grandparents will deal with the child with more warmth and understanding than the educators in the kindergarten or kindergarten will do. However, there are also cases where the grandmother’s treatment of the grandchild is so negative that it is better to put the child in an institution than to leave it to the grandmother’s upbringing.
It is not good for grandparents to become the main educators of a child. First of all, the child needs to be most emotionally attached to the parents, because they will raise him the longest. If they bond more strongly with their grandparents and they die before the child reaches adulthood, parents will face the difficult task of taking on the role of head caregivers and have not created a strong enough emotional base in relation to the child. It will not be easy for a child to reorient himself and to continue to experience in the personalities of his parents what he experienced in the person of his grandparents.
In addition, the main educators serve the child as the most important objects of identification. Grandparents are far from the child in their mentality, they are much further from the parents, so the identification process is difficult. The faster the pace of life and social development, the greater the differences between generations– pits in views on life. Already parents and children, especially when they “grow up”, find it relatively difficult to agree on life interests and ways of valuing life; even more difficult for grandparents, on the one hand, and grandchildren on the other. Older people are much less adaptable than young people. They are conservative, persistently adhere to long-established tracks and well-known attitudes in life, and are afraid of everything new and unknown. to understand the other man and to come to terms with him.
The educator must be resilient, adaptable, with a view to the future, with a lively interest in everything new and advanced. That is why an old man on average is never as successful an educator as a middle-aged or young man. He can get closer to the child, understand him more easily, get along with him more fully. This is why it is easier for the average parent to raise a child in the right way than the average grandparent. Therefore, children should not be allowed to be left entirely to the upbringing of the elderly. When they are free from work, parents should deal with their children as much as possible, persistently maintaining the position of the main educators in the family.
Theoretically, one might expect grandparents to raise their grandchildren more successfully than parents do because they have gained extensive experience raising their own children. Yet grandparents make more or less the same mistakes in raising children as parents. This is primarily because the attitude of the educator towards the child is only partly a consequence of knowledge or ignorance. that is, greater or lesser experience. The treatment of adults with children is much more an expression of the structure of the personality and its general life orientation. And the traits that one exhibited in adulthood remain largely the same in old age; moreover, various weaknesses and negative character traits usually intensify in old age. So if someone as a parent has expressed unhealthy emotional attitudes toward their child, they are unlikely to correct them later. They are likely to raise their grandchildren in the same or even more wrong way.
It is true that a parent gains experience in raising a child over time. But people differ a lot in how much they are able to learn from their experience. A mature and healthy person uses experience to constantly refine their behavior. However, the less neurotic personalities use their experience, the sicker their life attitudes are, because they are rigid and inflexible. There are many neurotics among parents; they usually remain so in old age.
Grandparents differ from parents in that they are motivated to make mistakes in raising their grandchildren. An old man, who has ended his life’s career, who has nothing to hope for in his vocation, social status, economic standard or sexual life, is often disappointed in life. Many of his desires remained unfulfilled, various ambitions did not come true, perhaps some basic emotional needs were not satisfied by his life. That is why an old man sometimes has a feeling of bitterness that can encourage him to give his grandchildren, these future people, what his life has denied him, and that is the complete satisfaction of all needs. With such an affective attitude towards children, the old man is very inclined to pamper his grandchild to the extreme, satisfying his every whim, in order to secure him a “beautiful and carefree childhood.”
Grandchildren and other motives encourage grandchildren to over-pamper. They often feel superfluous in the family, along with their adult children. Young people have taken their own path in life, which is quite different from that of the older generation or is even completely opposite to it. They are independent of the old in every way, they don’t need them anymore, so they don’t take their advice or listen to their suggestions either. The disappearance of the patriarchal family reduces the authority of the parents, so this completely disappears when the children grow up. That is why the opinion of grandparents on any issue is no longer taken into account. The orientation of the modern household to social assistance, the establishment of an increasing number of institutions for children and the opening of household services reduces the assistance of the elderly in the household. Or running a household and babysitting is what the elderly are still considered capable of, although otherwise their life views and needs are no longer taken seriously.
In such a life situation, the old man often feels pushed into a corner, emotionally rejected, interesting to no one. And yet in him still lives the basic psychological need of every man – the need to affirm his personality, to experience his value. From this emotional conflict, grandparents usually look for a way out in relation to their grandchildren. When they have become unnecessary to their own children, they try to be at least needed by their grandchild for as long as possible. Then, by cuddling, serving, sometimes by servile behavior, the grandchildren try to bond with each other as much as possible. Depending on the child’s dependence on them, his lack of independence and the need to constantly seek help, grandparents find satisfaction for their sense of neglect in the family.
How many times grandparents abuse their grandchildren as a means of defying their parents. When parents try to be consistent in their treatment of a child, when they scold him or defend him, the elderly often act in the opposite way. They take the child into protection from parental reprimands, allow him what the parents have just forbidden, do for him what the parents demanded of the child, or convince the child that his behavior is right and the parents have done wrong. Of course, in this way, grandparents undermine the authority of the parents and make it much more difficult to raise the child. And they unknowingly want to achieve that in order to take revenge on them for their neglect or for the loss of power in the family.
Such an action of the old causes conflict with the young. They explain themselves in front of the child about educational methods, accuse each other of mistakes, quarrel and insult, and this destroys the authority in both eyes of the child. It becomes insecure, loses confidence in its educators and becomes opportunistic towards them. This means that in every situation he leans towards the educator who is currently giving in to a greater extent or satisfying a wish. In the next hour, he will, without hesitation, lean towards the other if it suits him better. And he does not love or appreciate any of them too much, but tries to use them as much as possible in order to satisfy his egocentric aspirations.
Such an educational situation seriously damages the child’s personality because it cultivates his selfishness, hinders him in developing sociality, but also in gaining self-confidence, and brings him into emotional conflicts that motivate him to react neurotically. Therefore, for the proper development of a child’s personality, it is absolutely necessary for young parents to separate from their old ones, to live separately, in order to prevent the opposite actions with the child, ie the negative influence of grandparents on the child. Since the old and young generation of adults find it increasingly difficult to communicate in all matters of life, including the upbringing of children, it is useful for a young married couple to live separately from their parents. In this way, not only difficulties in raising children can be prevented, but also various marital quarrels that occur when the elderly begin to interfere in the marriage of the young.
Life’s disappointment and dissatisfaction with one’s position in the family does not always make grandparents sentimental, extremely lenient and inconsistent in dealing with children. Sometimes they become irritable, impatient and aggressive. Then they are prone to overly strict upbringing of grandchildren, impatient reactions and authoritative procedure. Contributing to this is the fact that the old man used to, while in the position of mother or father of the family, used to command and impose his will on everyone. When such an authoritative person finds himself in the role of a minor member of the family, he feels like an overthrown ruler who is trying hard to return to his privileged position. Since the elderly no longer manage to regain control of their own children who have gotten out from under their rule, they try to control it at least for their grandchildren. This motivates them to authoritative behavior.
If an old man at a younger age did not love his own child, if he treated him in an emotionally cold way, it is unlikely that he will sincerely love the child of his offspring. He is much more likely to be treated in a repulsive manner as well. Therefore, grandparents sometimes make the third educational mistake that is encountered in the attitude of some parents towards children. It is an upbringing without love.
Age brings generally reduced elasticity of man. Therefore, in advanced years man becomes more difficult to adapt; his attitudes become more and more rigid, less and less can be changed, so man behaves more and more automatically, precisely stereotypically, regardless of the current situation that provokes his reaction. This is the reason why grandparents find it increasingly difficult to adapt their actions with the child to his needs as they get older. They are even less able to change their views on raising children in anything. They are almost inaccessible to advice, are very reluctant to correct their actions and find it difficult to be taught. These are all reasons why grandparents should, on average, be considered less suitable than parents for raising children.