There are various names which apply to different roles and relationships. The same person is at different times (or in different relationships) a boy, man, father, or grandfather. This applies in the same way to girl, woman, mother and grandmother. Each of these words is a noun. They indicate a person but lack any indication of action or intent.
It is possible to be a grandmother but not grandmotherly, or a grandfather but not grandfatherly. Grandmotherly and grandfatherly are adjectives or adverbs (depending on context). They infer activity, intent or purposefulness. We apply that concept to the noun grandparents.
For the role of grandparents, we like the word Grandparently, a new word for a new phase of life; a new way of being.
A proposed definition:
- Pertaining to, characteristic of, or appropriate to a grandparent
- showing the affection of a grandparent
- In a manner befitting a grandparent
By the standard definition a grandparent is the parent of a parent. What fun is that? Being grandparently is more than where you fit in a family tree, it is an attitude and manner of acting. Even those with no children or grandchildren can be grandparently to related or unrelated children.
As family composition and mobility change, the chance that members of an extended family live close enough to be frequently together has shrunk. Many younger people speak about the family you are born into and the family that you make. Being grandparently is about being present in a community whether that community is by birth or by choice.
One of the great things about being grandparently is that you can make it anything you want.