A”Grand” Dilemma

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Grandchildren undoubtedly are the crowning glory in a family, stealing all the love and affection that rightfully belonged to their parents before they made their royal entry into this planet. Their laurels and successes are celebrated and placed on a pedestal much higher than actually deserved.

A couple of years ago, my better half objected to the idea of video-recording our college freshman son controlling and operating a robot for his computer programming class and sending it to my parents. He said he was actually thinking about and sympathizing in advance with those individuals whose ears would be filled with my parents singing a paean, glorifying their grandson’s achievement, when actually it was one of his assignments at a very rudimentary stage.

The bond between grandparents and their grandkids is one that is pure and magical. Lives are totally transformed with the arrival of a grandchild in the family. But there is the other side of the coin too when this privileged class is caught in a tug of war between grandparents from opposite sides or when a parent prefers that the kids have loyal allegiance to his or her family over the in-laws.

One of my fellow teachers shared over lunch how her mother was the absolute favorite of her three-year-old daughter. She happily boasted how her chubby, bubbly bundle of joy runs to her mother with open arms while she hides and sulks every time her mother-in-law visits them. She basically felt triumphant about the state of affairs in the grandparents’ domain.

My neighbor was highly disappointed when her son, when asked to draw his grandpa’s house, sketched the home of his paternal grandparents. She figured out so because while her parents lived in a duplex, her in-laws lived in a ranch house, and the drawing apparently was that of a single floor house. She seriously felt insecure that her little one was leaning more towards his paternal side.

At times, couples traveling home overseas are caught in a sticky situation, not able to decide which home they should choose to celebrate their child’s birthday if it happens to fall during that time. The ultimate solution rests on the decision to choose a park or a restaurant to keep both sides of the family happy.

The game can sometimes get even tenser! A jovial lady I regularly meet at the gym narrated an interesting episode. Her in-laws are divorced, and both have remarried while her parents have had a smooth sailing for 45 years. Her kids now have six grand parents, so when she had just three extra tickets for her son’s high school graduation, she decided to be fair and give one ticket to each of the three couples. Her mother snapped and emphasized, “Is this the price I pay for being married to the same person for so long? Your father and I BOTH should go for the event! It’s not our fault that your in-laws got divorced!”

A cousin of mine discovered to his surprise how his kindergartener had outsmarted them for a very long time. My aunt and uncle had always rejoiced over the fact that their five-year-old granddaughter had kept telling them how they topped the list of her favorite family members. They literally pitied the other set of grandparents who they felt missed out so much on her affection. The cat was out of the bag when once over tea, my cousin’s in-laws very proudly announced that whenever the little one visited them, she never wanted to leave because she said she loved THEM the most in the world!

Well, in a tug of war where doting grandparents from both sides compete for affection, can we blame the poor child caught in this dilemma? We may underestimate them, but little ones do have the intelligence to wriggle their way out and get the best of both worlds!


  1. Beautifully expressed! It’s one of the best and most selfless relationships in one’s life.

  2. Loved this, Rashmi! So true about rivalry between grandparents. In my case, the maternal grandmother lives near the grandchildren, so of course I’m always concerned that they will be closer to her. My husband says we are special because we are the grandparents they get to visit out of town!

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