Are Expat Grandparents Selfish?

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Are Expat Grandparents Selfish?

Anyone living in Spain for any length of time will surely have noticed how strong the family unit remains in the nation.

Greed and corruption may have left the country morally and financially bankrupt, prostituted to the EU for development funds and bailouts and under the control of Brussels, but the family unit remains intact, and something to be proud of.

Meals out may have been reduced and occur less frequently, but in Spain you are still likely to find three generations enjoying each other’s company.

What continues to strike me most is that they really do seem to enjoy each other’s company. There doesn’t appear to be that sense of ‘doing your duty’, of grandchildren only attending on the back of a promised toy or treat.

Of course this style of intergenerational interaction is possible because families are more likely to live close to each other in Spain than in the UK. The Spanish tend to retire in Spain, and generally not too far from where they were born.

This family unit is seen clearly when it comes to the support they give each other: Grandparents providing much needed after school and holiday babysitting services, children having their parents live at home as they see out their days.

For many this is a necessity as the Spanish care system is in need of a significant overhaul, but one suspects that Spain will always have as its foundation the family as the primary source of care and support.

Why am I writing about this now? Because of a debate I recently had with an elderly English couple who were returning to the UK as one needed a greater level of care than the other could provide.

Of course, while the couple had ‘lots of amazing expat friends’ none were able to help, so they were planning their return home.

I should say at this point that I have known them for years, ever since they sailed into the marina at the end of their 5 year round the world voyage 10 years ago.

Anyway, the reason for the debate?

Well, the aforementioned couple were bemoaning the lack of support being offered to them from their children.

To cut a long story short they just didn’t get the fact that having chosen to be self indulgent and selfish for the last 15 years – missing births, birthdays,  sports days and babysitting shifts – they had little right to expect to be looked after when they returned.

One good deed deserves another.

What goes around comes around.

You reap what you sow.

Treat others as you wish to be treated.

All phrases that sprung to mind, along with the question: are expat Grandparents selfish?

Chris Marshall
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Chris has lived and worked in the UK, USA and Spain before settling down in Almerimar, Spain in 2003, where he spends his time time running Almerimar Life, writing on a freelance basis for a number of papers and clients blogs, broadcasting regularly on a number of radio stations and along Sands running ALStrays - a cat re-homing and transport project he set up with his wife, which also transports dogs to the UK and throughout Europe