How many “Don’t Do This, You Crazy Grandmother” articles have I read in the last 9-months? Too damned many. That’s right, makes me a little twitchy being told by strangers to stay inside my grandma lines when all we newbs need is a little understanding.
Some of us are plainly hyper-exuberant and completely gaga over that fresh widdle bundle of joy, and while we may step out-of-bounds a time or two, most of us will quickly correct ourselves as we remember that we, too, were once young parents, handling ourselves just fine without interference for our elders, thank you very much.
Most grandparents get it. I’m just asking for a little breathing room. Some time to let the giddiness subside a hair. Cut us some slack, you authors of the DO NOTS.
Today, I counter the no with the yes, the shouldn’t with the should, the don’t with the DO IT!
#1) Love. In all forms. Yes. Especially if it includes silly voices and body-distorting shenanigans to make the baby laugh. Let the others wonder what has overcome you at your age. That baby laugh is gold.
#2) Loving your grown kids goes without saying, but take it a step further and support your children as they become parents. Support them in deed and thought and through prayer. Support them when they struggle and may not ask for your help. Support them as they find their parental footing, much like you did yours. Love them enough to trust them with your grandchild, their baby.
#3) Momma and Daddy have rules that you dislike? Feeling grandparent-constrained and tempted to break their rules? Take a moment when this happens and think back when an older, wiser, more experienced parent disapproved of your rules. Maybe it was your disapproving in-laws (the horror!). Remember how that felt? We each raise our children according to their needs. Instead of breaking the rules your children set for theirs, reconsider your position. Goes back to #2 and makes everyone happier.
#4) You have more years on you than they do, which means you are a living breathing testament to history. You have seen things. You have witnessed life events that will be written into text books. Find a way to share your history, what you have witnessed and lived, with those munchkins. Sure toys are great, trips to ice cream shops are a given, but this kinda truth is invaluable; it’s the stuff of inspiration and awe. Technology will always be available for fact-finding research, but the hand’s on, I lived through it, oral history of our lives is beyond technology and a priceless connection to the next generation.
#5) Be open to sharing your failures. One of the best lessons I ever was taught by my grandmother was that people will fail you. Expect it. Most folks will try like hell not to fail those they love, but there will come a time that disappointment will overpower trust. When we share our personal failures, we allow our grandchildren to see that we are human and subject to stumble. Of course, the most important part of this equation is to also share how we righted our wrong. The lesson is adversity will come, but you can overcome.
#6) When asked your opinion, give it. What? Don’t be so surprised. There will come a time when you’re asked to weigh in. The thing to remember is don’t get your grandparenty undies in a bunch if your advice isn’t taken. Seriously. We do it all the time: ask several folks what they think, then take what resonates and leave the rest. What makes your children any different? Yes, I remember that they’re raising your grandchild/ren. They’re the parents = they get to make the call.
#7) It’s OK to say no. LOL! I wrote that and wondered when I’d have to say “no!” to Sweet E, but there will come a day, I’m sure. I was more directly talking about saying “no” to your children. Support is a wonderful gift to offer, but if asked to do something you’re uncomfortable with or interferes with plans you want to keep, say no. You have a life, too. This one may take practice, though. “No” might not come easy because through the years we have watched our mothers and grandmothers do anything and everything asked of them because they were just too danged polite; it’s ingrained in some. It just dawned on me that this might be a Southern thang, or given that my mother is German, a just-too-stubborn-to-say-no thing. Either way, your kiddos will understand. It’s OK.
#8) When you figure out what makes those grands laugh, milk it for all it’s worth. Sweet E thinks fake sneezing is HIGH-larious. If you listened in on one of our Skype sessions, you’d think we were all dying of the flu. Fake sneezes abound! Laughing cures many ills. Laughing is a stress-reliever. Laughing binds wounds. Laughing lowers blood pressure. Laughter bonds. Laughter induces endorphins. Laughter is contagious (FAKE SNEEZE HERE!). Laughter is one of the greatest gifts, other than your unconditional love, that you can offer a child. ~Laugh~Laugh~Laugh~
#9) Sometimes parents aren’t their children’s sought-after source for answers. There will come a time when your grandchild looks to you for support and assurance. My policy will be the same as it was for Boy: honesty in all things…with one caveat: do not undermine the parents. I will not be living the day-to-day authority role with my grandchild/ren, nor will most of you, so I will defer to their wisdom (for which I will have been praying). Most offers of support or assurance will not be complicated or need to be delicately formed, but I will keep my mind towards the well-being of all.
#10) Listening to and indulging imagination will be my joy. Creative genes run through deeps waters in my family. We have painters and builders and designers and writers and photographers swimming in the pool. Sweet E may or may not be creatively bent in ways traditional, but I believe we all possess a spark. Nurturing, via listening and truly hearing our grandchildren’s passion, even at a young age, will be a revelation to the person they are and will become. It may be this role I look most forward to. Kids never cease to amaze and astound me, of course our grandchildren are the best to come.
My list of Yeses! is not extensive, yet worthy of consideration by those quick with the don’ts. The next time I come across another author offering their list of DO NOTS, I’m offering this in response.
We could all stand a little more YES! in our lives.