It’s hard to see your grandchildren suffer. Especially when they are caught in circumstances beyond their control. When the adults in their life are in the thralls of their life choices, our grandchildren are also caught in its snare. That’s when they need us to be their belayer.
“…a good belayer is one who is both focused and calm, alert and patient.” We must strive to cultivate those same qualities.”
I first heard this concept when my husband served in the military. He described belaying down the side of steep mountains. He also spoke of how important his belayer was. A weak belayer who wasn’t steady made him unsure and anxious. Because, well frankly, his life depended on him.
Then there’s the belayer that induces confidence. That’s when the size of the mountain doesn’t matter.
When your grandchild feels like he’s descending off the side of an emotional mountain, you can be her belayer.
“Mountain climbing provides a great analogy for that stage of life when our kids begin to explore the world. From the grade-school years through to their twenties and beyond, we want to instill in them a healthy attitude about discovery-cautious, yet confident.
“Now, at first glance, scaling a huge rock may appear dangerous: a handful of people going up hard, unforgiving crags, connected only by ropes. However, under the guidance of a trained professional, the sport is relatively safe. The leader anticipates potential disasters and takes precautions against them.
“Ideally, two support ropes are anchored into rocks from different angles, taking into account different possible stresses. While the climber ascends, he is supported by the belay man, who is responsible for letting out rope as well as holding the climber in case he should fall. In addition, the belay man will often view the climb from an overall perspective-either below or above the climber-and can offer encouragement and suggestions to help” him or her succeed.”
Exactly what that looks like will vary according to two elements. First, obviously, the grandchild’s circumstances. And secondly, your relationship with that grandchild.
If life is good overall, then your job as a good belayer might simply be that steady person on standing on solid ground. Someone, that she can tell her stories of schoolyard adventures, crushes, and classroom gossip.
Sadly, this is a tough culture to raise a family in. In that case, your responsibility as belayer is to hold that rope. Keep her steady. Let her know just what is in her power to do within her circumstances, and what is not.
You can tell her where it’s safe to grab onto to. And where is the solid ledge to slip in her toes for stability.
Most of all, and in good weather or bad, you can call out to her the encouragement she needs to get to the next level of life.