Celebrating grandmothers: the unsung ‘sheroes’ we sometimes overlook
Almost every new mum and indeed every mother has a lot to thank their grandmothers for. Without the help of grandmothers in the home, juggling a business, career, the kids and even the family would amount to nothing but a tall dream.
In many developing countries like Nigeria, grandmothers have had to move into their children’s homes to assist with childcare.
This way, many working moms no longer have to choose between their career and the family.
Grandmothers not only provide the needed childcare that young mothers need to thrive in their careers, but their emotional support and presence in the home, allow young mums to pursue their personal goals and aspirations. Now that’s a support system right there.
Beyond childcare, a 2006 World Bank article also established that grandmothers play an essential role in maternal and child nutrition, health and survival rates in Latin America, Asia, and Africa.
In the article titled, ‘Grandmothers Promote Maternal and Child Health: the Role of Indigenous Knowledge Systems’ Managers’, the World Bank described grandmothers as the managers of indigenous knowledge systems that deal with the development, care and the well-being of women and children.
The author, Dr. Judi Aubel, a community health specialist, claims that the role of grandmothers is central in advising younger women and male family members on nutrition and health matters, especially when children are still young.
According to him, it is through grandmothers that new knowledge and better health practices can be transmitted to younger mothers and the rest of society. And we couldn’t agree more with him on this.
Nonetheless, the influence and authority of grandmothers are not limited to childcare and nutrition alone.
Even in family life and marriages, couples follow the advice of their mothers and mothers-in-law as a sign of respect.
Yet they remain unsung. In commemoration of Mother’s Day, this article highlights the numerous ways grandmothers contribute to the advancement of childcare and nutrition.
Maternal health and nutrition
In Nigeria, grandmothers have been described as secondary caregivers for their grandchildren. By extension, this means that in the long run, they can influence their grandchildren’s psychological and physical health outcomes.
With regard to childcare, the role of a grandmother is never-ending. From preparing home remedies for her sick grandchildren to caring for them, bathing the children, direct caring for mothers, assisting with domestic tasks to give mothers more time for child care, she remains the biggest support system of any and every mother.
Additionally, she also supports her daughter in general child care and upbringing of children. She also transmits religious, cultural values and traditions to her grandchildren.
As a child, I spent most of my formative years with my grandmother largely because I was a picky eater. My mum told me she was tired of forcing me to eat and according to her, I was such a fussy eater. Tired of my mum’s numerous complaints about my refusal to eat, my grandmum asked that I be sent over to her. In less than a month at my granny’s place, I ‘sat’ up. She would never take no for an answer especially when it has got to do with meals.
And no, she didn’t beat or force me as my mum did. All she did was sing and pet me and in no time I would finish a plate of food. My mum couldn’t believe her ears when granny told her about my transformation.
The scenario above holds true for many parents. Grandmas are usually the best person to handle the challenges of fussy eating of kids aged 4-6 and it might not be unconnected to the fact that they have the key to their grandchild’s heart. They always find creative ways to cook meals that kids find irresistible.
Thankfully, today, a brand like Peak 456 Growing Up Milk with DHA, a specially formulated growing up milk for children ages 4 to 6 years of age, has made it easier for grandparents to provide their grandkids with the adequate nutrients they require to support brain development among other benefits.
Attending school meetings and events
Times may have changed and today many couples lead busy lives no thanks to a demanding career. This is where grandparents come in. When parents are unable to attend P.T A. meetings or other school programs, grandmums’ presence will mean even more to the grandchildren if their parents can’t attend activities because of work or other commitments. This is one of the many reasons why grandmums remain a strong support system for parents.