Dear Grandparent(s) or Friend of our Parents,
As a parent, representing your children’s generation, may I share some thoughts with you in regards to your role and influence in the lives of your grandchild(ren)?
Please understand that I respect your wisdom and the unique and important role you play in the lives of my generation and my children’s generation.
We respect the fact that you have “served your time” as parents and are now in the quieter, retiring years. We understand that your nerves are more sensitive, you experience more pain, your discomforts are numerous, your sense of balance is precarious, you tire more easily… All of which contribute to a sensitivity when it comes to being around the very young generation.
Perhaps one positive side to getting old is hearing loss. There is a benefit to being able to turn off hearing aids as you desire. Something we in the “middle” generation wish we could do at times.
Sometimes when you reach a certain age, it is easy to think that you are not as useful or desired. May I reassure you that you still have very important contributions to make to all the living generations!
You have the opportunity to impart wisdom gained from years of experience. You can also contribute a “fresh perspective” for young parents who feel as if the present moments and challenges will never end. You can encourage. You can pray. You can add a sense of humor. You can give hugs and kisses to the youngest generation. If physically able, you can bake cookies for the littlest people in your lives.
Please see your influence for what it is. It may seem small to you, but it’s the small things that add up the most. It’s the little ways that tell your loved ones how big your heart and love is for them.
Please also remember that there was a time when you too had little ones at home. You may have had different genders, age gaps, and numbers than your children. Yet, don’t forget that you too felt the difficulties of raising little ones. Try to remember with compassion.
As frustrating as the younger generation might be at times, please remember that they are still children and still in need of much love. In fact, your love will influence them more than your criticism.
In fact, your love will influence them more than your criticism.
As grandparents, you don’t have to interact as parents any more. You don’t have the responsibilities as a parent. You don’t have the work of parents. You don’t have the constant 24/7 function of meeting the demands and needs of little ones.
You have the privilege of being able to love them, encourage where you can — both parents and little ones, to support the parents wherever possible, to uphold the authority of the parents’, and to not have to worry about the discipline aspect of parental responsibility.
The difference between parents and grandparents is that you can expect respect from your grandchildren towards yourself and your property, but that you do not need to enforce any other rules from your grandchildren. The parents are held accountable for that.
Little people are still little, which means they are learning appropriate behavior. They shouldn’t be expected to act like adults because they aren’t. They may need occasional gentle reminders as to what is appropriate behavior, but remember that you are in the supporting role — not main role of responsibility.
In fact, if you let the parents function in their required roles, you might find they do better than you think. If not, gently and humbly wait for the right opportunities to share and only when necessary.
Little people also have huge amounts of energy. They tire easily when really little. They are sensitive to changes in normal patterns: sleep, meals, relationships, environments, etc… Remember, they are the immature ones, needing to learn to adjust. The older generation shouldn’t be the ones in need of maturity when it comes to dealing with changes in normal patterns.
The older generation shouldn’t be the ones in need of maturity when it comes to dealing with changes in normal patterns.
It requires selflessness to be inconvenienced by noisy, immature, and energetic little ones. Remember though, unless you are in a situation where you are forced to raise your grandchildren, you are only around these children for a short period of time. It shouldn’t be too difficult to keep your perspective correct: that you love your grandchildren and are happy to be around them.
True love is not based on how pleasant and gratifying children are to you. True love is not about how convenient it is to have little ones around you. True love does not mean you force little energetic ones to be stoic, seldom heard, stationary, etc…
True love means you remember that you were once young too. It helps you to recall what you would have enjoyed as a child and to then be the kind of grandparent you would have loved to have as a child.
Selflessness means that you focus on what makes your grandchildren feel loved, happy, and secure. Remember, if you want to see your grandchildren and want them to want to see you, you need to be the kind of grandparent that is known for your love — rather than your rules or harshness.
If you focus on being a supportive role to your children and a loving person to your grandchildren, I can guarantee that you will gain much more from the experience.
If you really don’t want to be obligated to spend some time with your grandchildren, then just do the opposite. Guaranteed, you will see your children limiting your time with your grandchildren and will see grandchildren who are less than enthusiastic about time spent with you.
My guess is that very few, if any, of you fit into that mentality. So then, be the grandparent your grandchildren need and fulfill your special role as encourager, boo-boo kisser, cookie-baker, and generous hugger.
And a huge thank you from the “middle” generation!