First, the differing roles played by grandfathers and grandmothers mean more diversity and thus extra value for grandchildren. Second, the emergence of the nurturing father means that nurturing grandfathers can't be far behind, especially considering that grand-parenting is by its very nature more laid-back than parenting. Third, generalizations about gender are inherently tricky, as humans display much behavior that is not gender-typical. Still, looking at typical patterns can be instructive.
Grandfathers May Focus on the Future
While many grandmothers remark that with their grandchildren they gain the ability to live in the moment, grandfathers have a different experience. Often when they look at their grandchildren, they focus on what lies in their future. This is what psychologist Erik Erikson called "generativity" -- the desire to produce something that will outlive the individual.
Bates, a professor specializing in grandfather-grandchild relationships, has identified seven expressions generative grandfathering can take, including these four:
From an early age, males tend to be more active and physical, which makes them
well-suited for sharing sports and outdoor activities with their grandchildren.
In addition, males have better spatial skills and greater mechanical abilities,
which makes them perfect for chess playing, carpentry and basic mechanics. When
it comes to interpersonal relationships, men tend to be less empathetic and more
competitive, also more likely to engage in teasing and horseplay. As long as
grandfathers don't veer into cruelty, grandchildren will benefit from these
differing patterns of socialization.
This brings us to the end of Knudsenís research. Before I read this study I always assumed that Grandfathers were identical to Grandmothers. itís now very clear to me that Grandfathers are indeed very different and play a very unique role in the development of grandchildren.