The best description I’ve ever heard of what grandparents should be, was from Sue Ellen Cooper, when she wrote of her husband’s grandparents, “They were like parents – only better.” Cooper wrote that she didn’t have grandparents. So her impressions of what a granny was consisted wholly of stereotypical images.
Sadly, in American culture, her feelings are too common. Grandparents, especially grandmas, are stereotyped more often than honored.
However, with the boomer generation reshaping the boundaries of grandparenting, becoming a granny no longer needs to make you feel old.
Rather, it’s more like a new chance at life and family relationships.
“…to my surprise, I found that having no experience with grandparents wasn’t the disadvantage I had thought it might be. Grandparenting isn’t something you can prepare for; any more than parenting is. Suddenly you are there – and you have to immediately assume the mantle and start playing the role of grandma. Sounds like a recipe for anxiety!
Except that it isn’t. Just as in the case of a new parent, one’s lack of experience and knowledge hardly matters, because – along with that new child – comes an enormous overload of love which makes you long to serve this little person, to hold and love her, just to spend time in her presence and care for her. You will never have to over think your new role. You discover that this is hard-wired into you. All you have to do is plunge in, enjoy it, and follow your heart.”
Becoming a grandparent is very much like becoming a parent all over again. Except, you’re not. It’s even better. And not because you can “spoil them and send them home.” No, it’s more like because now, you are far more prepared to become a grandparent than you were ready to be a parent.
Now, you have age and perspective. Couple those assets with the fact that we are hardwired to connect, and you have everything you need to become the best grandparent your grandchild could ever want.
We are hardwired for relationships, family and a need for one another. One of the real tradgeties of modern American culture is that we place far too high of a value on youth. When in reality, the value should be placed on experience, wisdom and interdependency.
Instead, we value youth and autonomy.
Don’t get me wrong. Young families should be free to make their own choices. However, one of the issues that hold grandparents back from being all they can, is that their children don’t understand. Just as they are perfectly hardwired to be the best parents for their children, so too, are you hardwired to be the best grandparents–“like parents, only better.”