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Anderson: The Granddad Effect and other observations

Anderson: The Granddad Effect and other observations

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When our children were young, from what I remember, we weren’t tempted to buy something for them nearly every time we went shopping. It’s quite different being grandparents.

It is a wonder, to be sure, to see our own offspring have offspring of his own. Perhaps there is more of a balance to be had, since as grandparents we must now consider another set of adults who must be accommodated and appeased. With ours, my husband only had me monitoring his child-care routines – and that was with a grateful handing over of the boys to boost my freedom.

This stage in life has produced new behaviors and attitudes, perhaps due to fewer stresses on emotions and time, as well as less pressure on paychecks than when we were working and raising our own family.

It has been interesting to watch my husband develop as a grandfather. His eagerness to gift to our grandsons is evidenced mostly when we shop in stores where toys for boys are for sale. Every single time we’re shopping, he’ll find something that he’s sure we should buy for the 3-year-old grandson. I do not exaggerate. I often try to talk him out of the purchase, not always with success.

This is “The Granddad Effect.” There’s something about being a grandparent, especially, that makes this man particularly generous. It was not a common characteristic of his when he was simply “the dad.” This extremely charitable behavior has continued to amuse me.

This year it didn’t matter that we’d already purchased three Christmas gifts for him. Granddad (which our sons called his father) continued to exclaim, “Shouldn’t we buy this for him?!” whenever we happened upon appropriate playthings. Christmas was only a week after the child’s birthday. For that event, we’d also bought several presents, so the fellow was going to be inundated with new toys as it was.

When this first grandson was born, he was a preemie and much more fragile than our own had been. Granddad was reluctant to hold the infant, much less volunteer for necessary child-care activities. Luckily, Gramma didn’t feel any reluctance what-so-ever. This served to strike a balance in grandparenthood, as I continue, then and now, to want all the hands-on time that I can get.

Our grandson’s parents were particularly protective of that first born, understandably so. My impression was that Granddad was a bit apprehensive about pleasing those new parents although his would surely have been the most efficient and trustworthy caregiver of their child - had his self-confidence grown. He became willing to help with bottle feeding, after the child was months old, and he accepted distinct instructions from our son.

The second grandson was healthy and stout. Granddad was much more confident with that sturdy little one. He had jumped in to do everything when our sons were born, and like riding a bicycle, he remembered what to do with the new one.

Since our second grandson was born, we haven’t had much of a chance to practice baby care, other than our helpful tending when he was born. Subsequently, we’ve not been able to see him but once during all these months of COVID-19 seclusion.

Eventually that will change, and it’s suspected that grandson #2, when he’s a bit older, will also be the recipient of the Granddad Effect.

The Granddad Effect. A condition affecting this grandfather, to the benefit of two grandsons.

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at


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