Grandparents

It has been 8 days since I have seen my boys. I have talked to them daily, and they are having a great time. But, of course, I miss them.

Today is the day their Dad leaves Florida (where they are vacationing with him) and their Grandparents (their Dad’s parents) arrive to start a week holiday with them there. They are pretty excited to spend that time with Ama and Grandad.

I am excited for them too.

I loved my Granny. She passed away in January 2010 and is sorely missed in our family. She was a great Granny – I have such fond memories of her from my childhood all the way to my adulthood (a few weeks before she passed away even).

What was most interesting about her was the role she had in my life: she wasn’t a grandmother that was the “babysitter” or the “come over and clean our house” or the “if all else fails, call Granny to do it”. Many grandparents are like that – help out a lot – and I think that is great (although I have some pretty strong opinions on what happens to parents when their parents (i.e. the grandparents) do too much for them…maybe another post)…. I think that is one aspect of grandparenting – but a very marginal one.

Granny was a plan visits to the museum-play cards-paint with you-take you to the movies or a play-go on walks-paint your birthday card-have you over for a special one on one weekend-slip you a bit of cash to go to the corner store-take you out to eat-listen to your stories-kind of Granny.

She was not the “help my Mom out” kind of Grandmother. Now I certainly don’t mean that with any disresepct – as I know she did help my Mom out too. But her main priority, in my eyes (which that was the only perspective that really mattered to me) was me. She wanted to spend time with me because of me – not because my parents had asked her to as they were busy or had to do something else. And boy did that make me feel special.

I think that should be the role for Grandparents – really. It’s sometimes easier with our own parents, but harder with our in laws. We may like having our own parents around because it is easier to be completely honest with them – or we can ask them to do stuff (or not do stuff).

I had this conversation with my girlfriend about this as she has a new baby. I had asked her if her mother-in-law would be coming by and she had responded that she was, but she often wasn’t that much “help”. My own in-laws have a new grandchild and told me they didn’t get to spend much time with the baby as the parents had “enough help” or were doing fine on their own, or could call someone else with “more experience with babies” (seriously)!

I think the role of “helping” from grandparents is really secondary to their real role: building a very special and unique bond with their granchild. Who cares if they are not much help: they don’t need to be! It’s not their primary focus. Of course it is a bonus if they are helpful too – but they have done their “parenting” duties! It is time for some fun for them!

Our job as parents is to step back and make sure we are not preventing our children from developping that very special role with their grandparents because of our own hangups. If we stand in our children’s way we are actually doing them a great disservice and depriving them of more people to love them. Nothing can beat the love of a grandparent! We are also depriving the grandparents as well – and that is just not fair. After years of sacrifice raising us – do they not get to enjoy some of their legacy?

I am so grateful that I was able to experince that unique relationship with my Granny and Papa. I now have the opportunity to help foster the relationships between my kids and their grandparents. My kids are lucky as they gained an extra set of grandparents in the divorce. I hope that they are able to nurture all those special relationships. And I can help make that happen. In fact, I need to help make that happen – it is a top priority if I want what is best for my child.

So while I miss Zach and Josh very much, I am excited for them to spend this week with Ama and Grandad. It is an opportunity for them to have a lot of fun and create lasting memories and bonds forever. Enjoy!


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