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Grandparents and Family

What's that saying? It takes a village to raise a child?

grandparents with kids

Family and friends become even more important for the single dad and his kids. Hopefully your children have grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other extended family members. There are many who don’t because they may be single dads who grew up as only children and/or whose parents have passed on.

It’s likely they have replaced the hole left by not having a big family with close friends who essentially become a family. Whoever it is, a single dad needs backup from time to time. And your children need those extended family members. It takes a village to raise a child and all that.

Ideally, you’re still close to, or at least in contact with the kids' other grandparents and their mums’ family. This gives you another set of people in your corner. Chances are, that the contact your children have with them is done via their mum, but hopefully they’re still someone you can call on in times of need for the sake of your children.

grandmother and daughter

When I was your age we didn’t have…

Perhaps the most prominent members of extended family in the kids’ lives are their grandparents. Grandparents play a unique role for children often spoiling them rotten, taking care of them when needs arise and offering advice.

But this is where things can sometimes get tricky. They, after all raised you. They’ve been parents, they have more experience than you and at times this can cause conflict. Things have changed in the 30 or 40 years since they parented you as a child, but they don’t necessarily see it that way and may step in to try to parent your children rather than grandparent them.

If you think back to when you were raised, you’ll find that some things they did were amazing parenting strategies, but equally there’ll be many things that make you go, ‘I’ll never do that!’

Grandparents shouldn’t be there to parent your children, but they’ll try and often won’t agree with everything you do. So you need to set boundaries and clearly identify their role in yours and your children’s lives. Grandparents generally don’t see their grandkids as often as you do, so time with them should be quality time, happy times, fun times. Kids hopefully look to their grandparents with awe and wonder at all their quirky ways and stories from a time that they can only imagine.

grandparents playing music for baby

Not Always Ideal

Unfortunately, this idyllic set up is becoming less available in an age where work/life balance often means grandparents are called upon to pick kids up, drop them off from school and activities, make dinner for them and many other things. This of course is ok from time to time, however, when it becomes constant the lines between parent and grandparent start to get blurred.

But having grandparents around to call upon in such instances are priceless. Many single dads don’t have the luxury of having their parents around to help out enough or even at all. My own parents live in another country so access to them on a regular basis is tricky as you can expect. Fortunately, having my ex’s parents nearby means I still have that support network available when needed.

large family dinner


Make sure you outline some of the rules and expectations you’d like them to follow with your kids. It’s easy for grandparents to want to spoil them, giving into every whim which is great, but the detox when they get back to ‘reality’ isn’t always pleasant.

Some grandparents might go the other way and put your kids through ‘boot camp’ to undo (what they consider to be) your bad parenting style. Whilst it’s nice to get advice from them, it’s inappropriate for them to parent them in a way you don’t agree with. Stand your ground but be civil.

Having those big blowouts and throwing words around you can’t take back in anger could lead to alienating them from your lives, depriving you of support and the kids of their limited time with their grandparents.

Not Just Nan and Grandad

Aunts, uncles, cousins, other extended family members and close friends will also play a vital role in your support network and helping to raise your kids. It’s beneficial to have other adults close to your children that they can go to, not just physically, but for advice and support themselves. Other adults can be role models for your children and offer a different perspective and dynamic over what a dad can on his own.

All Aboard

Advice is just that, advice, and it's always worth taking on board and choosing to use what works best for your situation. Keep your family close and don’t be too proud to ask for help when needed. Your children will benefit from those extra people in their corner, just as you benefit from the support they can offer.

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As with any of my articles and posts, feel free to contact me with feedback or other ideas about things you'd like to see on my site.

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