My dad and I have both been reading The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection at the same time. For full-disclosure, author Jerry Witkovsky is my client, so it’s logical I would read it, and it’s a great give for your parents (Oh…is that Mother’s Day coming around the corner?), but what I didn’t expect was the way that all of us have become closer across the generations, and my pivotal, powerful role in that.
We often hear about the stress of being the sandwich generation—caring for children on the one hand (and not just little ones…raise your hand if you think parenting teens takes more time and energy than toddlers!) and aging parents on the other.
And, yes, there is concern and worry on both ends of that care spectrum, but, I’m also finding amazing joys, connection and depth, by using that middle position to be the arbiter, the connector, the conduit, to a deeper grandparent-grandchild relationship that brings added joy and depth for everyone.
Baby Boomers have also been called the “me” generation. So in that spirit, let me tell you three reasons this has been a wonderful thing for…ME!
1. It’s a great way to BUY Time
“I bet grandma would know what to do,” or “Grandpa would love to hear that story” can usually buy me a good 15 to even 30 minutes of time, when my son is eager to tell me about something that happened at school but we’ve just walked in the door and I have umpteen things to do before settling in.
So, let go of “shoulds,” embrace potential nominations for “Worst Mommy Award” and hand your child the phone—in the end, you’ll still get the story, but now with Grandma or Grandpa’s advice included, and probably from a much more calm, comforted child to a much more calm, ready to listen parent.
2. You’ll hear stories you’ve never heard before
For the brief 18 or so year’s you lived with your parents, the early years were about them keeping you physically safe, the middle/teen years about you defying them, and by the time you were probably ready to hear a story it was time to move out and onto your own life.
But with grandkids, there’s no pressure or responsibility…it really is all about the connection and the relationship. Plus as my parents age, they are bursting with stories—I’m learning about my dad’s experience in Korea during the war, about a racy scandal that happened near the house my mom grew up in.
As long as those stories (per our prior important conversation and agreement) don’t include what I did and perhaps shouldn’t have as a girl….it’s absolutely wonderful. As Jerry says, “When a grandparent dies, a library burns to the ground.” I am so excited to be hearing these stories, and any way to help nurture that is good.
3. You’ll get to hear someone else rave about how wonderful your child is.
How about conversations with your mom that aren’t about why hasn’t Susie called me lately? I always say it’s good to get an objective opinion…what parent doesn’t like to hear how smart, engaging and curious their child is. Now that the habit is viscerally instilled, my son calls on his own, searches out stories from his grandparents on his own.
I see so many articles or mommy blogs about intrusive grandparents, concern about grandparents spoiling grandkids, parents posing an obstacle to grandparents’ access to grandkids…but at work we manage relationships all the time—some we get along with and some we don’t—but we accept that we need to make it work and then we come up with a strategy to do it, because we all are working toward a common vision. In this case, raising a wonderful person who will grow up to be a responsible, independent, kind-hearted contributor to the world.
At the end of the day
The thing is,
love x love = more love.
There’s no need to ration it, just enable it and let it multiply.