On Being a Grandparent


I have seven grandchildren but they are spread out over a wide area of the United States. Four are in Vermont, one in New Hampshire and two are in Virginia. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see them as often as we would like but when we do, it is a blessing. Occasionally, some of our grandchildren come visit us in Florida when their schedules allow. They’re all very active youngsters in college, sports and other activities. On very special occasions like graduations and holidays like Christmas, we have the good fortune of seeing them and our children all under one roof. That is a real treat which my wife and I savor.

Being a grandparent is a very special kind of role. Notably, the most common characteristic associated with this role is that of spoiling our grandchildren and then “giving them back to their parents.” However, there are many other perks that grandparents can derive. One of them is the privilege of watching their offspring grow in a much different manner than when we were parents. As a parent, most of us didn’t have the luxury of sitting back and putting our children’s growth and progress into the same perspective as a grandparent can. We just didn’t have the down time (and probably the energy either). We were too busy protecting, disciplining, cajoling, directing, worrying, transporting and praying that we were doing the right things. We didn’t have the benefits of all of the technical paraphernalia that our grandchildren have and probably we still yearn for the simplicity of life that prevailed “back when.”

Another perk is based in the saying “what goes around, comes around.” In most, if not all instances, our children end up experiencing many of the same problems with their children that we did while raising them. My daughter calls that payback for many of the sleepless nights that we spent worrying about them. Of course, most of us don’t gloat over that fact because we become as concerned as they do but it is interesting how closely history tends to repeat itself. Sometimes, if we have a close and positive enough relationship to our children, they might ask our advice in dealing with a problem without being told that we’re interfering. The difference, of course, is that the brunt of responsibility doesn’t lie with us anymore but with them. Now, it’s their turn.

Lastly, and probably most emphatically, we get the chance to relish the many accomplishments that our grandchildren experience. Grandparents have “bragging rights” which can be overheard wherever we older folks gather in talking about them. Whether it be in their academic accomplishments, sports, music, their sense of living independently or their choice of a career it always feels like we had a part … perhaps a small one … in their feats. We are fortunate to be in close contact with our children despite the distances between us. They tend to keep us abreast of their activities and, in some cases, we’ve been able to see video streaming from Vermont of our grandchildren’s playing soccer and basketball.

Of course, the dearest times are when we get that unexpected telephone call from one of our grandchildren or when, as a family, they might be gathered so that we can talk with them all in on sitting. There is not question but that grandchildren fill a void in our lives. Their presence in our lives … whether actual or virtual … helps us as grandparents to enjoy the fruits of how the enthusiasm of the young sparks our memories as well as serving to help us to want to share in that very same incentive with them. There is nothing more beautiful than being with young people. Because of the distance we have with our grandchildren, I find myself making up for my not having the privilege of being closer to them by going wherever children are gathered and living vicariously through those experiences. Whether it’s at the ballpark, mall or just in my neighborhood, watching children has a tremendously positive effect on my psyche. I enjoy being “forever young.”

Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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