Can you give your grandkids the one thing they want for Christmas? 38



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My heart aches for my grown-up children as I watch them race through life, struggling to make ends meet in the modern way, which means Providing My Children With Absolutely Everything They Could Possibly Want And More.

Sometimes I wish I could jump in and shout like some kind of over-zealous lollipop lady at a crossing full of schoolkids. I’d give them a huge telling off: “STOP! Stop running around, stop earning, stop building a future that you’ll be too tired and sick to enjoy.”

I decided a few years ago that I wouldn’t meddle – I’d let my children run their lives in whatever way they saw fit. After all, this is a very different world we live in today.

But then something happened to change my mind. My friend and I were talking about how busy-busy-busy our daughters, sons and their partners were; how much harder they seemed to have it than us. Later that night, she shared a Spanish Ikea ad from last year on my Facebook wall with the message, “Maybe it’s time we starts meddling?”

I watched the clip and tears rolled down my face as I thought of the only people in the world who are even more special to me than my own children. You know who I’m talking about!

In a social experiment, kids were called in to a fun room to write their letter to the Three Wise Men, which is the equivalent of our grandies writing to Santa. They wrote pretty typical things: toys, gadgets, unicorns, bikes and so on.

Next, the researchers asked the kids to write a letter to their parents, telling them what they wanted from them.

You might think your grandchild would take the opportunity to score double the presents, but no. The children overwhelmingly requested two things from their parents: more time, and more play.

And here’s the kicker. The final stage of the experiment was to ask the children, if they could only post one letter, which would it be?

The kids all chose the letter to their parents.

In other words, most children would happily forego the Wii, the Ninjago, the Lego, Barbies and Ninja Turtles in exchange for more time with Mum and Dad.

It’s something we all know but as a society don’t seem to know how to address. I know my daughter is wracked with guilt from the long hours she spends away from her children, but she consoles herself with the thought that all this working is setting up a future for them.

I thought long and hard about whether to share the video with her. I knew it would cause her a lot more angst at a time when she is even more busy than her usual super-woman self.

In the end, I decided to meddle. I sent her the link and wrote a message saying that this Christmas, I wanted to give her the gift of more time with her children. Whether than means booking a cleaner to help her out (on the condition she uses those hours to play with my grandchildren), or whether it means sitting down together and working out how I can help her financially to scale back her commitments. It could be as simple as having a conversation that makes her think about her priorities and whether the kids really need all those activities and toys.

But either way, I’m committed. I’ve made the decision to meddle because I want to give my grandchildren the one thing they want more than anything this Christmas.

What do you think? Was I right to meddle?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. What a wonderful gift! – doesnt matter if its right or wrong – a gift from the heart.

  2. Mmmm. More time with playing with your children is a gift you cant replace. But in todays world children are growing up with all the technical gear and some are happy with that…..the first 5 years of a child’s life is so important and I believe that one of the parents shpuld be at home with the children and not juggling between work and play Centres. Time goes too fast.

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  3. Oh wouldn’t it be lovely if it were that simple, although we as Grandparents would want to do what ever we can and only with good intentions, I think parents are taking on to much these days because they want to start out with everything.
    It’s important to try and prioritise our time so we can have more quality time with our children, unfortunately there are to many distractions for young people today and they want to be involved in everything which comes at a cost to their families. Just remember at times less is more, especially when it comes to the children.

  4. When I think back to my childhood I think my kids spend more family time with their kids, when we were kids it was a case of children should be seen & not heard & we spent most of our time off exploring by our selves with other kids so long as we were home by dark, as compared to my kids that spend more time doing things together as a family, every generation is different, I never meddle in my kids decision on how they raise their kids, they know I’m there whenever they need me, but because they are busy with work ect during the week at the weekends it is very much family time for them, My kids are so much more involved in their kids life than my parents ever were with us.

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    • I never meddle in my son’s life either, I can totally relate to you. I never had him to live his life for him Lyn I am happy the he is competent and capable and can more than manage living life on his own.. cheers

  5. Overwhelmingly YES – I regularly give the gift of time, whether it’s to give her time with her husband alone, or time with her kids – it’s all valuable. Great story….time to meddle in the kindest way possible.

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