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Barriers make child's play hard work for grandads

Barriers make child's play hard work for grandads  
The Advertiser
October 17, 2013 10:50PM

GRANDFATHERS face too many social barriers, including being excluded from playgroups, according to a new study highlighting the challenges men in the role face.  
University of Adelaide researchers spoke to more than 100 baby boomers about being a grandparent and said one key message was how grandfathers often felt uneasy with their grandchildren in public.

Senior lecturer in psychology Dr Linley Denson, who supervised the study's author Cecily Young, said perceptions of grandfathers needed to change, as more men in their 50s and 60s retire and spend more time with their grandchildren.

"Grandfathers were quite sensitive with the child protection issue, that they felt like they couldn't hang around the playground," she said.

"Others felt excluded from playgroups and there were physical barriers, such as too few change rooms in male toilets.

"There are too many social barriers, we even need to look at it at a civic planning level, such as putting up signs saying 'grandfathers welcome'."

Baby boomers in the survey were defined as those born between 1945- 1961 and about 40 per cent of respondents were men.

The survey also asked grandparents to rate their satisfaction in four areas of life; paid work, caring for grandchildren, caring for other family members and looking after themselves.

Council on the Ageing SA executive director SA Ian Yates said the research resonates with the feedback his organisation receives.

"Another thing we find is that in many cases men who are grandparents were not necessarily heavily involved with parenting with their own children, so it does tend to be a newer experience than many of us think," he said.

"There is also the issue that men don't tend to be as good as networking as women, so it can be harder to make those connections."

Adelaide grandfather Trevor Spencer - who tries to spend as much time as possible with his grandson Kobi, 5 - agreed there were social barriers.

"I know I've had funny looks when I've been with Kobi at the playground and the beach," he said.

"I feel like I sometimes should wear a name tag that says 'it's OK, I'm his grandfather' to make this less uncomfortable."

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