Shadow Parents

In my late thirties, I feel I have been blessed with the best parents in the universe ( i.e. if we also consider Aliens have parents 😛 ). At 5, I felt pretty much the same. In between there have been world wars, cold wars, civil wars, emotional wars and so on; with my parents. There have been times when I felt I had the most stubborn parents and times when I have felt that I am not worthy of being their daughter. Am pretty sure that my parents too must have gone through a roller coaster ride of guilt and pride, in their journey of parenthood. Thankfully we had my grandparents (maternal and paternal) around. They were the buffer system, as well as the catalyst; switching their roles as per the need of the situation. Grandparents during my times, were the natural bridges between parents and children; loving, caring, nurturing and most importantly guiding us and our parents with grace.

Imagine, during those conflicting years, the growing years, if we had not one but three sets of parents to deal with! And no grandparents!

That is exactly how it is in most cases these days. Confused? Let me walk you through the situation. With both the parents working these days, the children are left with their grandparents (which is very very good and healthy, far better than leaving them alone with maids). This change has prompted a role reversal of sorts, wherein the grandparents have taken it on themselves to be the shadow parents of their grand children. They have ceased to be the lovely, enigmatic, graceful grandparents who used to have endless tales to tell us. They are not to be blamed though, cause our busy schedules and lack of time has pushed them to take on our roles at home.

In all this mix up, it is our children who are suffering. They face three times the pressure of what we did (parents+paternal grandparents+maternal grandparents). Each set is thrusting their wishes and desires on the child. Each set wants to bring them up as per their rules and values, unknowingly creating conflict within the child. Whichever set the child tries to follow, the other sets usually gets offended, forcing the child to learn manipulation and juggling emotions at a very young age.

I say this not as an assumption and nor is this baseless. I say this as a counselor, after having observed this trend and studying the cases that have come to me.

A child needs its own parents; PARENTS ARE IRREPLACEABLE.

A child needs its grandparents and not shadow parents; GRANDPARENTS ARE IRREPLACEABLE TOO.

Lets stick to the roles we are meant to play in our child’s life and gift them a memorable, value added childhood.



Filed under Observations of an idle mind

6 responses to “Shadow Parents

  1. Papia Das (Dutta)

    Very well written and highlights the pressing concerns of the day. Personally I feel it is the child’s upbringing & of course the child’s ability to imbibe them, that will help him/her to understand if he is being asked to choose the wrong path. All said and done the parents and grandparents are undoubtedly essential in building the foundation of a child’s character


    • Absolutely.
      No parent or grandparent would want their apple of the eye to choose a wrong path. But while wishing for the best for their children they/ we are creating an excess pressure under which the child buckles.
      No situation can be generalized but I have observed this trend pretty often.


  2. Sandeepa Batiwala

    Beautifully written Anu. I totally agree with u. A child has to follow instructions given by the parents and not get dual commands from grand parents as well leading to confusion. Grand parents can play their cuddly cajoling role and imbibe positive values at the same time but should not interfere in parenting by setting a new set of instructions for kids.


  3. Sandeepa Batiwala


  4. Surangama Sarkar

    A very well thought write up, Anuradha, and a very practical one too.In Our previous generation both the parents started working. So the working or retired grand mother is totally different from our homemaker grand mothers. The children are obviously under stress and it is reflected in their behaviour.


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