The grand adventure: How do we learn to be grandparents?
For some reason, I’ve been thinking these days about being a grandparent ... like how do we know how to be grandparents or if it’s something we learn, who teaches us?
For most of us, we learned to be parents because we became parents. It was like not knowing how to swim and suddenly being thrown into the deep end of a swimming pool.
There was no choice but to sink or swim. So, here came this little darling we loved immediately - maybe before they were ever born, and for good or not-so-good (and I made lots of mistakes), we became parents.
Becoming grandparents was even more fun and a proud moment because we were able to welcome what would be our grown child’s greatest gift to the world (in our eyes, especially). Of course we realized they had a little help from their life partner, but as one of my adopted sons (Angel, you know who you are) said after witnessing his son Noah graduating from high school, “This is my lifetime achievement.”
But, when you think about it, maybe grandparenting is simply transferring the same love and respect you have for their parents (your children), or perhaps you watched your own grandparents and when it came your turn, you took the good parts of their grandparenting style and tweaked it. Or, perhaps you learned by osmosis as you watched your parents grandparenting your kids.
I know, I know. Sometimes - like you - I wondered if your children’s easy-going, permissive and indulgent grandparents were the same people who set unreasonable curfews (worse than any of your friends’ parents) and who ended every conversation with, “You’re grounded!”
For me, grandparenting has always seemed as easy as breathing and just as natural.
For more than 20 years, I’ve enjoyed my role as diaper changer, bottle warmer, toy picker-upper, dance recital audience, soccer game spectator, band booster, adventure planner, homework helper, confidante and hundreds of other bit parts in the award-winning lives of our six grandchildren.
I can think of no greater way to live life than sharing it with the generation our children gifted to us. Every day is an adventure, every discovery is shiny and new and every small step should be celebrated.
So to the next generation of grandparents, I will suggest some reading:
1. Be The Best Grandparent (by the UK’s Grandparenting Association),
2. Grandloving: Making Memories With Your Grandchildren,
3. The Grandparent’s Handbook - Helpful advice and fun activities,
4. Grandparenting A Child With Special Needs, and
5. Super Granny: Great Stuff To Do With Your Grandchildren.
Just one more thing: Take plenty of pictures. Grandchildren change quickly. My 10-year-old twin granddarlings are becoming pre-teens before my eyes, and grandchildren like nothing more than looking back at themselves.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and grandparenting can be one of the best gigs you’ll ever have.