10 Things You Need To Know About Being A Grandparent

Reading a great book
Reading a great book

It seems de rigueur nowadays to write list-driven posts. They’re all over the Internet, and I’m sure you’ve read your fair share:

  • “20 things I wish I’d known in my late 20’s”
  • “10 things to deal with before you get married”
  • “12  facts about life they don’t teach in college”
  • “25 tidbits that would have made all the difference before we had children”
  • blah, blah, blah.

So why, then, am I jumping on this bandwagon today? Am I desperate for something to write about? Hopeful for a few extra “hits” on my blog? Jonesing for an invitation to read my post on Ellen? (The Ellen idea, BTW, is most excellent!)

When you crunch the numbers, I’ve only had a combined 38-months of grand-parenting experience, and most of that had been off-site. But this Connecticut odyssey has been epic on so many levels, and I know I’m qualified to generate at least a handful of items everyone really does need to know.

Feel free to comment with your “Amens,” corrections, or additions.

  1. IMG_2847It’s much harder than it looks: Behind every cute “granddaddy in a rocking-chair reading to the lovely toddler” picture is a 12-hour shift that includes diaper changes, laundry, baths, meal preparation, dislocated shoulders (from carrying) and much, much more. You can’t spell grandparent without some serious sweat.
  2. It’s about the relationship: This is different from parenting in that grandparents don’t have to worry so much about the details. Consequently, we’re free to focus on the relationship. And, as people with a lot of life experience, we’re exceptionally well qualified. What a wonderful opportunity!
  3. It begins with love, but it doesn’t end there: Love not only hugs, plays, and kisses, but it teaches, encourages, corrects, shapes, trains, holds accountable, and follows through.
  4. Hugs are better answers than answers: We don’t have to have all the answers, we simply need to have the arms that are willing to wrap around our grandchildren and their challenges. Our role is more along the lines of being one of the answers than having the answer.
  5. The parents are the head coaches, our role is special teams: We may be older, we may well be wiser, and we may know so much more than we did when we were young; but they’re not our children, they are our children’s children. The parents call the shots, and as grandparents it’s our role to be 100% supportive and to implement the plan. With our own unique pizzazz, of course.
  6. Consistency is the glue that holds everything together: When I taught exceptional education a student once said, “Mr Maul, thanks for running a tight ship. At least I know what to expect around you.” Don’t rock the consistency boat!
  7. When in Rome, do as the Romans do: When we’re at our grandchildren’s home, we’re in Rome, and we follow the protocols of the house (Unless, of course, their parents are literally in Rome – like Naomi and Craig have been this week – then the Granddaddy can do what he likes!)
  8. Hold the course: Grand-parenting is not about the short-term, it’s about the long haul. Being a grandparent is about being solid, it’s about being the kind of rock the children can come alongside in a storm, a place to seek refuge, a steady, reliable, consistent presence of love and strength.
  9. Wisdom beats out strength any day: We may not be as physically strong as we were 30 years ago, but we can tap resources we never knew existed when we were young. Love plus spiritual maturity makes us mighty!
  10. Listen, listen, listen: When I was a young parent I had so much to say to my kids (well, I thought I did…) that I often didn’t take enough time to listen. As grandparents it’s imperative that we have ready ears to listen, and that we encourage our grandchildren to share their hearts without limitation.

IMG_2827Of course, I’ve learned a whole lot more from my grand-children this weekend than I’ve taught them. But if I could teach them anything, just one thing, it would be to love this life with a passion, and to live it without reservation; because they were created, by a generous God, to be brilliant beings of light and joy.

– DEREK 

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