What do Grandfathers Value?

25 November, 2019

Photo: “Grandfather and grandson” from SRN’s SG Photobank

National Grandparent’s Day was observed on Sunday 24th November this year. Many of us consider grandparents to be important people in our lives. During childhood, our grandparents may have assumed responsibility as our primary caregivers while our parents were at work. Their importance in influencing and shaping our character and values during our formative years should not be underestimated.

In the chapter “What Do Grandfathers Value? Understanding Grandfatherhood in Asia through Chinese Grandfathers in Singapore” published in Grandfathers: Global Perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), A/P Thang Leng Leng (NUS Japanese Studies) explores the attitudes that grandfathers have towards intergenerational relationships by analysing letters from Chinese grandfathers in Singapore to their grandchildren.

An interesting finding was that despite Chinese families in Singapore no longer having a traditional preference for sons over daughters, the patriarchal mindset may still persist. In some letters to their grandsons, grandfathers wrote of their desire to see their grandsons take on the responsibility of supporting their families.

A/P Thang’s research further revealed that grandfathers regularly advised their grandchildren to learn the Chinese language well, highlighting both its cultural importance and its practicality. Additionally, the letters showed how they assumed responsibility to impart their moral values, religion, education, and filial piety to their grandchildren. This responsibility to impart values to guide the younger generation is the definition of the concept of generativity. It motivates these grandfathers to share their wisdom with the next generation and contributes to the meaning-making of grandfatherhood.

Read the chapter here: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1057/978-1-137-56338-5_7