Sunday, June 1, 2014

Grandparenting - another mission

A lot of teaching moments
Our focus in Arkansas was getting our daughter, Tally, and her family ready for a move to Pennsylvania and to reacquaint ourselves with the grandchildren. Her husband, Eric, will join her in another week to be here when the movers arrive. 

We were coasting along as a leisurely pace when the game plan changed. 

Tally's step-mother-in-law passed away and with us on her doorstep, she was able to fly to Utah to attend the funeral. 

This meant leaving us in charge of her three children for almost four days. At the moment, we are in the middle of those four days.

The children are actually pretty easy and it is going quite well actually. The youngest, Angelina - age four, is cute as a button but can be quite demanding for attention. 

Her preschool had ended so it is just her and us while Elena and Juliana are at school.  

So far, we've had a furniture refinishing project, card games, 
Elena playing Phase Ten
Willie Wonka movies, puzzle building, bedtime stories, family meals, cookie making, 
and sorting clothes they want to take to Pennsylvania.  
With Angelina, Granddad has taken her to a nearby park, where she throws rocks, looks for bugs and explores nature. 

We are hosting Wallace and Carol Goddard, a couple a few years younger than ourselves for a BBQ tomorrow night. Wallace is retiring as a Family Life Specialist for the State of Arkansas at the end of July. They will be moving back to Logan, Utah in August. 

They have befriended our granddaughters and have been a wonderful support to Eric and Tally.

We have a lot in common. Wallace is an author. He has one more book he wants to write prior to making plans for a full time mission for the two of them. 

Tally gets back Tuesday afternoon so life will get simpler again. 

In keeping with the theme of this blog, I am including an article I wrote an article on grandparenting.

Grandparents Make A Difference

Grandchildren are a great joy. On becoming a grandparent we feel a deepened awareness of the purpose of our existence and a connection to the past and future through family. 

Grandchildren are our hope for the future. They carry forward our family heritage and a genetic continuity into a time and a world we'll never see. They are special to us.

We also have the joy of watching our children become parents as they give freely of their love, nurture and attention to the next generation. It is a pleasure to watch them enjoy and love their children. The love of the grandchildren is a link that further binds us together as a family growing closer through time.

We are now the grandparents of 27 grandchildren (updated for this blog) and expecting one more in June. Ten grandchildren from two families live within 20 minutes from us. The others we see as often as is feasible.

A generation or two ago, grandparenting was an integral part of life. As modern society has taken a toll on the traditional nuclear family, the role of grandparents to provide a loving and stable force in family life has become even more crucial.

What does it take to be a loving and stable force? Lillian Carson, D.S.W., a psychotherapist from Montecito, California has written "The Essential Grandparent: A Guide to Making a Difference".

Carson challenges grandparents to consider how important they are in the lives of their grandchildren and their families. She also sees grandparents benefiting from the grandparenting role by opening a door to great joy, personal fulfillment and successful aging. 

Teaching values and culture. As Carson sees it, effective grandparents have great power to change lives. They have wisdom to pass on, values and beliefs to share, skills to teach and a culture to honor. Because of their experience and link to the past, grandparents have stories from their own lives and their forbearers.

Grandparents are allies in a child's search for who they are, their place in the family and world. In a grandparent, the grandchildren have a friend who believes in them and helps them believe in themselves.

They are role models and examples to the grandchildren of lives lived with purpose, goodness and hope. They demonstrate and show that in spite of the changes and vicissitudes of life, they have prevailed and are living happy lives.

Giving unconditional love. Grandparents can provide unconditional love and acceptance unencumbered by the demands of daily living and the need to correct a child. Being one generation removed and a household away, they can tolerate some things the parents can’t. 

Their home and presence are a safe haven with far fewer expectations. The time they spend and the attention they pay grandchildren shows them they are valuable and lovable.

Carson believes that if a child is to keep his or her sense of wonder, he or she needs the companionship of at least one caring adult who can share it and join in the discovery, joy, excitement and mystery of the world. Grandparents know a lot and have a lot to teach.

On letting go. As Sam Levinson once said, "Grandparents and grandchildren have a lot in common. They have a common enemy." The children's parents are authority figures, the ones in charge and, in critical ways, both the grandchildren and grandparents are at the parents' mercy. Both have to learn to subordinate their will to the parents’ interests.

Carson gives advice on how grandparents should relate to the parents. Grandparents are not in charge of the parents or the parenting. Their vision and will should not prevail. It is the parent’s show, not the grandparents.

If parents ask for an opinion, give it in a low-key manner and let go of the outcome. Whether they act on it is up to them. Don’t persist in trying to set them right. Think before you act. 

Words and judgments can be hurtful. Giving advice requires an incredible amount of tact.

Maintain your own life. Over involvement can be intrusive and grandparents risk being taken for granted. The parents’ attention and busy lives are naturally centered on their family. 

Grandparents will experience some disappointment and loss as children have less involvement with them. Also the demands on parents in rearing children and making a living reduce the time they can devote to their own parents.

Providing stability and comfort. In today’s world when families are under so much pressure, grandparents’ need to be a safety net of stability and security for grandchildren. 

Grandparents can be a source of comfort and encouragement during life’s difficult moments. Build a relationship that can be a refuge in a time of need.

Grandparents shape the lives of their family by nurturing them. The best way for grandparents to help their own children at this point in their life is to love the grandchildren. 

Besides nurturing the grandchildren, there are opportunities to provide support, encouragement, praise, assistance and comfort to adult children as they travel their life’s journey.

None of this sounds too easy. It takes great love and commitment to fulfill the grandparent role. It is a role sorely needed by the children of this world. This role is a source of great joy as we endeavor to fill it with grace, flair and love. 

Copyright 2010 by Val Farmer

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