How responsible are Grandparents for their Grandchildren?

Whenever I hear someone complain about their grandchildren, part of me thinks “Well, if you had raised your children right, maybe they would have raised your grandchildren right…”. On the other hand, a lot of things can influence even the best raised child, especially once they leave the nest.

So, what do you think? All comments are appreciated, particularly those from Grandparents. :slight_smile:

I think that grandparents should be willing to raise the kid, if the parents are killed.

And that’s the only responsibility they have.

Everything else–voluntary.

Do you mean “how much is a child’s behavior influenced by what their grandparents did or didn’t do?”

Or do you mean “to what degree should grandparents take care of and be responsible for their grandchildren?”

As to the first: kids sometimes grow out of control despite what their parents do. Get two generations down the line and all bets are off. My brother, my sister and I are all fairly different people with very different lives.

As to the second… growing up, I barely knew my grandparents, but I suppose they would have been my next-of-kin should I have lost my parents. So one of my grandparents would have likely had to take us in.

I think it is a bit much to think that how a person’s grandchildren turn out has much, if anything, to do with how they were as parents. Presuming that their children turned into productive, functional members of society themselves, what more could they do? Raising a child is not like programming a computer. While you can set a good example for them and try to teach them how to make good decisions, ultimately they have their own personalitites and the free will to make their own decisions. Not to mention that each generation is ultimately raising their kids under different economic and societal circumstances than the previous one.

Even that is conditional. My father is 75. My youngest sister is in her early 30s; it’s conceivable that she could have a baby. If she died, Dad’s the last relative I’d want raising the child.

And some people try to raise their kids in all ways different from how they were raised. Just as an example, my brother thought our mother was too strict, and raised his kids in a more laissez-faire fashion.

We have had two different grandchildren here for an extended time. One for nearly a year and another for slightly over two years. Both while their parents were “finding themselves” after a divorce.
A few others have been here for a month or so. (Between us, we have 12 of the little dahlins.)

You can say “should/shouldn’t” , “would/won’t” or “not responsible” but when you are faced with a situation you’ll do what you have to do.

Good parenting won’t guarantee a good or successful child, and neither will good grand parenting, if that’s what you mean by “responsible.” Even the parents aren’t responsible in that respect, the kid has to kick in something of himself.

Yeah, that’s pretty much what we do here at the SDMB. :slight_smile:

On the whole, I’d say grandparents have no responsibility for how their grandkids turn out. For one thing, they’re only “responsible” for 50% of the parents raising the grandkids. They likely have no influence over the power dynamics within their children’s marriages, and certainly no influence over the parenting ideas and ideals held by children’s spouses.

Thread starter returning to the scene of the crime.

First, my apologies if the OP was ambiguous - my intention was to ask if grandparents should be held accountable for how their grandchildren turn out when the parents are still in the picture (not if they should take over raising the children if the parents go missing / are incarcerated / become deceased). I appreciate those of you who answered both, though.

Second, thanks for the replies. Many good comments that have given me new perspectives.

This is a good point. How a person raises their own children is not necessarily based upon how they were raised. Heck, the way a couple raises a child is even a compromise between the two parents. If raiing the child alone, each would likely do things differently.

Addtionally, there are also other influences in a child’s life: another set of grandparents and extended family, friends, neighbors, teachers, location etc.

I’d have to say that for most families, a child is rarely a reflection of the grandparent.

There’s also the fact that lots of grandparents may only see their grandchildren a handful of days every year. It would make far more sense to hold my elementary school teachers responsible for how I turned out than the people who I saw for maybe a week at a time once or twice a year.

Even if you start with the absurd assumptions that a child’s behavior is determined entirely by their grandparents and that each grandparent contributes equally, it would follow that each grandparent is only 25% responsible, so the answer to the OP has to be “not very much, if at all.”

Of course in situations where the child is actually raised by a grandparent the influence will be much greater, but there are still too many other factors to say that the grandparent is completely responsible for the child’s behavior, particularly once the child is attending school and forming their own social connections.