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Becoming Grandparents at Heart:How and Why?

Becoming Grandparents at Heart:How and Why?

The bond that unites grandchildren and grandparents is unique:if the love for their descendants is generally almost as unconditional as that of parents for their children, their relationship is not marked by authority and education and more by complicity and personal affinities. It is not for nothing that many grandparents do not really have a problem admitting to having a favorite grandchild among all their family. In some cases, they thus take on the role of confidant with the latter, or rediscover parental qualities towards them. If the modalities of this relationship are extremely varied from one family to another and from one person to another, it is in any case a unique bond, most often beneficial both on the one hand than on the other. What then of all the children who, either never having known their biological grandparents, or having been estranged by the circumstances of life, have no grandparents? Or even those who do not necessarily have a bad relationship with their ancestors but simply find themselves estranged by geographical distance?

There is no reason that only blood ties come into play in the love that a child can receive and give. Many parents adopt out of necessity or by choice, so why not do the same for older people with regard to grandchildren? This is called "grandparents of heart". To put it simply, it is an intergenerational exchange where elderly people — who may or may not have grandchildren by the way — are put in contact with children, sometimes in a situation of emotional deprivation, whom they take under their wing and for whom they play this role of surrogate grandparents. If it is true that you do not choose your family, nothing prevents you from choosing one for adoption! So why become a grandparent at heart, and how do you go about it?

Why become a grandparent at heart?

If the children placed in contact with surrogate grandparents generally suffer from emotional deficiencies, the same is true of certain elderly people, who are therefore also likely to want to share their time and affection with them. Indeed, either because they have never had one, or because their own grandchildren live too far from their home, some seniors may feel a lack of not being able to play this role of grandparent in life. of their grandchildren. Because being a grandparent is as much a status as a symbolic role, which gives meaning to life when one reaches old age and all the changes that this entails:retirement, free time, idleness, but also the absence of new professional objectives or even for certain personnel... In this context, some elderly people will undertake trips, do voluntary work, find hobbies or new objectives such as learning a foreign language, and/ or immerse themselves body and soul in their role of grandparent — you are not born a grandma, you become one, if you want! For those for whom this is not possible, becoming a grandparent at heart is therefore an option.

In addition, one of the biggest scourges affecting the third age today is that of loneliness, between premature widowhood, the gradual disappearance of friends and loved ones, where their loss to diseases affecting their autonomy and their mental and cognitive abilities, the end of the professional career… This is fortunately not the case for all retirees, but for some of them, their social circle is greatly reduced. However, if loneliness is never easy to live with (it is moreover a scourge which does not strike only the elderly in our atomized societies, far from it, and many young people who are nevertheless supposed to have emotional and social lives wealthy at their age also claim to suffer greatly from it!), it can lead to other mental ailments and afflictions, starting with depression, which affects many older people. In this context, adopting loving grandchildren can offer a real line of survival for seniors suffering from loneliness. Like many interpersonal relationships based on choice rather than fate — to come back to this idea that we choose our friends but not our family — within a relationship between grandchild and loving grandparent, each has something to contribute but also a lack to fill, and everyone therefore ultimately finds his account — pleasure in giving, joy in receiving! Testimonies abound in this direction:the adoptive grandparents who have had this experience speak of occupying the child and taking him out of his usual universe, while receiving in return a lot of happiness themselves.

It is not for nothing that without going so far, many retirement homes undertake initiatives promoting intergenerational exchange, such as intergenerational choirs for example. Indeed, it is beneficial on both sides. If the children can benefit from the experience and the supposed wisdom of their elders, the latter find there a sense of mission and usefulness, which tends to dissipate for some when the age advances and that one gets closer. of death. On both sides, we open up to different perspectives that allow us to take a new look at life and at the different generations:while the older ones tell them what the world was like when they were young, the little ones teach them how to use a smartphone and why it is so essential to them. We open up to each other's culture, share our cinematographic or musical passions, and so on. In short, for the youngest as well as the oldest, intergenerational exchange contributes to mental and emotional development. This is all the more true since the bond between the two is intense, and in this respect, there is not much more intimate than “adopting” a grandchild!

Finally, much like how some potentially reproducing couples choose to adopt based on the idea that there are already enough unhappy children who could benefit from a loving family, it is gratifying to know how to bring a kind of air bubble to children whose environment is not always the warmest.

How to become a grandparent at heart?

There are already a number of platforms to connect potential grandparents and grandchildren at heart. Some come from associations, but like dating sites, the digital world has made it much easier to get in touch with each other (however, this concept is nothing new and some associations connect seniors and children for decades!). And like the latter, everyone creates and fills out a profile on these sites with names such as or — sites which, for some, have tens of thousands of members and have facilitated thousands of encounters. We then fill out a presentation sheet in which we explain the motivations behind this choice, which then allows each other to make contact on the basis of mutual affinities and respective expectations. Some sites take care of managing requests and connections themselves. Of course, the parents themselves are involved in the selection process, which makes it possible to avoid any form of drift. Similarly, registration formalities are quite rigorous and may include criminal records, health certificates and insurance. Some associations also offer follow-up in the months and years following a successful encounter.

Once the contact has been established, if it is good, the exchange of emails can give way in the first place to telephone calls. Eventually we can finally consider a meeting, and see if the alchemy takes in person. When this is the case, it is a real joy on both sides! It also sometimes happens that the meeting, despite exchanges a priori promising, is a disappointment. It is not serious and nothing prevents to start again. It's about not getting too emotionally involved until you're sure the magic is really working.

From there, you can truly become (or become) grandparents again! This can therefore go as far as accommodating the children for a few days or taking them on vacation , or simply see them on a daily basis, welcome them and help them after school with their homework, have lunch together on Sundays — be a real grandpa or a real granny, what! In some stories, the adopted grandparents even come on holidays, to the birthdays of their "grandchildren", or to play Santa Claus during the winter holidays. In short, whether you have never had grandchildren or whether life circumstances have taken you away from yours, nothing prevents you from adopting new ones. Your ties will only be all the stronger since you will have chosen each other mutually. It's up to you to take the plunge!