While chatting to some friends last week someone made the comment, “I couldn’t live without my grandkids”. This is so true for so many of us, I know that my grandkids are the absolute joys of my life – I’m so blessed to have them and I know that so many other people will feel the same way. But this comment had me thinking… They mean so much to us, but the reality is that we are so much more important to them.
The role of a grandparent is a difficult one. It’s a little bit of discipline (if allowed by their parents/our children), it’s a little bit teacher and life educator, it’s a little bit story teller and most importantly, it’s a whole lot of love! But in a way, these parts of our role as grandparent make us so important to that child’s life.
For example, last week when my daughter and her daughter (a little miss at 13) had an argument over whether or not she should go to a school dance, it was me who she called – the granddaughter that is. She felt safe picking up the phone to tell me that her friends were excluding her at school and going to the school dance meant a lot to her because it was a chance to be involved. Now my answer was that true friends will always include you regardless of whether or not you can go to a social event or not. However the fact that she picked up the phone to seek my advice on the primary issue and the relationship issue meant a lot.
It also made me realise that in our relationship, I was a “safe” person for her. Now from my own experience, I know exactly what it is like to not be close with a grandparent. At the time I thought it was a normal relationship – in those days not all of us were close with our grandparents. But now that I look back I can see that I missed out on something very special. When I was a teenager and had disagreements with my parents, I would turn to my friends for advice and support some of whom were older and lead me astray.
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This whole train of thought has made me realise that although I adore my grandchildren and I “need” them in my life for love and happiness, the reverse relationship is that they really do need us for love and support.
Without being secondary parents or interfering with family life and their family rules which we may not always be privy to, we are there as a support system and an important one at that.
I know that after realising this I want to make sure my grandkids turn to me when the going gets tough instead of doing something else or seeking advice from somewhere else.
Tell us, when the going gets tough where do you grandkids turn to? Do you talk about meaningful things in their lives together? Do you feel that part of our role as a grandparent is to be there ever lasting support system?