It’s been an enriching, eye-opening experience, seeing my parents as new grandparents. I have a new appreciation for what it means to be a grandparent. Grandparents can play a huge role in their grandchildren’s lives and feel happy, proud and fulfilled leaving behind a legacy of selfless love. Sometimes there are challenges too. Grandparenthood is a very unique phase of life, with many things to deal with–aging of oneself, friends and family members, larger families, new roles, new perspectives, reflections on when they were younger, new physical, mental and emotional demands, new cultural, generational and technological adaptations, new relationships and new priorities. There’s a lot of change to take in (and change is often not easy), so I can appreciate how complex it could be for some to navigate this new role and life stage. I’ve been searching for articles to read on the topic, but surprisingly have not found much. Perhaps they are out there, or perhaps this is a particular phase of life that could use more knowledge building and sharing.
I can empathize that aging would have its share of mental and physical challenges (I took a developmental psychology course on the ‘Psychology of Aging’, which helped educate me a little bit on the topic), however, the power and privilege to pass on life lessons to future generations and influence your family legacy is a gift and something that can indeed have an impact on the world. Grandparents are important vehicles for making this happen. Personally speaking, my own grandparents had a very positive impact on me. Even though I only saw them once every few years when I would visit them in India, they helped instill in me, the values of warmth, caring, giving, and family connectedness.
Here is a poem of sorts (I am no poet, so perhaps this is more of a reflection) on what makes a good grandparent, inspired by what I have observed from my own grandparents, parents and other people’s stories of parenthood and grandparenthood.
The gift of grandparenthoodBeing a grandparent is a priceless gift–a gift that many others never have the chance to experience. A gift that gives instant joy during the challenges of aging. A gift that is best received simply with gratitude, and a gift that keeps on giving.Grandparents selflessly love their grandchild for the joy, innocence and budding life that they represent. They support their children as new parents and take this new phase of life as an opportunity to form new bonds with their own children.A grandparent may have grown up in a different time, but does not judge, is not selfish and does not put their own expectations or beliefs ahead of their role as a loving parent and grandparent, here and now.A grandparent takes initiative to be a part of their grandchild’s life–visiting them often, playing with them, taking an interest in their activities, reading to them and getting to know every part of them. Near or far, more or less active, a loving grandparent tries to seize every moment to show their grandchild that they love them, in their own special way. All they desire in return is a hug and a kiss and that reassuring feeling inside that they are leaving a special mark in that child’s heart.A grandparent can never resist an opportunity to see their grandchild! They cherish each moment with their grandchild as something precious…moments that allow them to wash away any troubles and experience sheer, bubbling joy in the present moment. Moments that give them bursts of energy, bring out silly sounds and goofy games, or sometimes tire them out…but it’s all worth it in the end. 🙂A grandchild looks up to their grandparents as wise heroes whom they can trust and turn to for love, cuddles, tickles and cookies! One of the happiest places to be for a grandchild is on grandpa’s lap or in grandma’s arms!A new parent looks to their own parents for guidance and comfort during this exciting time of life, enjoying their stories of the past and appreciating and admiring their ability to move from parenthood to grandparenthood, with grace. Regardless of new generations and roles that have come and gone, the bond between parent and child always remains.To honour your own life and the legacy you will leave behind, is to make the most of the present moment. You will enrich your own life, and your children’s and grandchildren’s lives, by playing a part in those little moments with them, the ups, downs and in-betweens.Your sweet little grandchild will always look at you with his or her big, innocent eyes and love you unconditionally, without judgement, with a full, glowing heart–just as your own child did when they were young. The best possible act a grandparent can offer is to do the same in return. By doing this, you will leave behind the best lesson and family legacy possible–SELFLESS LOVE, and this wisdom will surely be passed on through time.Grandparents are gifts to the world.