Hello Grandparents. If you are a parent reading this, then think of yourself in the future for a moment. You have had your kids, they are raised, happy, vibrant, living fulfilling lives in their own ways and now they have children.
I have some advice I would like to give to you today.
You did all the hard work of parenting. You did your best with the resources you had. You did your best with all the emotional issues that were passed on through your family lines. You did a great job. You loved as best you could. You thought you were giving your kids the best life you could and you were (most likely) giving them more than you had.
Now, though, it is your children's turn. And guess what, now they have more resources than you had to help them. They have more information now than ever to try to parent in the way they think is the best way possible. This is not a reflection on your parenting choices. Take a deep breath. The ways that your kids do things differently are because now they have information you didn't and they are striving to do their best. All they need is your support.
It would be helpful if you would research the things they talk about with parenting. Read a couple of blog posts. Check out a book from the library. Watch the documentary they suggested so that you can understand their new food choices. Don't dismiss what they are trying to do because it is different than what you experienced. If you support them, they will feel so much more confident and heard. Their ideas do not need to be treated as childish because they are different than yours. Their ideas need to be validated...just as every persons ideas need to be validated. You will find more connection, love, and peace if you will take a little time to understand.
What should you do with your grandchildren? If you haven't read my post on life learning, I suggest you start there. Watch your grandchildren. Observe their interests. See the wonderful things they notice that you haven't noticed in a long time. Take time to be with them. You do, after all, have more time now than when you were raising your own kids. Take them on adventures. Ask them about their likes and dislikes. I would recommend not asking about school. For most kids, school isn't very interesting to talk about and there is so much more to your grandchild than what they memorized in school. I know from experience that talking about school with my grandparents did not bring connection. What do they do outside of school? If they could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? If they could go anywhere in the city, where would it be? Can you take them there? What is an activity they have always wanted to try but haven't had the chance? Can you make it happen?
Do you offer sleepovers? Do you allow them to see how you run your house? Do they bake with you? Do you teach them how to peel carrots and weed the garden? When was the last time you took them to the park? Do you allow them the time to focus on what they want to do while in your presence instead of saying, "Let's go do this," or "Look at that!" When you are spending time together, are you prioritizing your grandchildren?
Unschooling has taught me that learning never ends. People's interests shift and change and it is never too late to start connecting with people. It is never too late to start observing people and validating them. Even if you are older, you can still learn and grow and pass along information or examples from your own life experience. You can help your grandchildren learn things that you know how to do so well. You can also learn how to play Pokemon, how to draw a cheetah, or how to help your 6 year old grandson feel safe and secure in his emotions. You still have things to learn too. You can learn together.
There are so many ways to connect with grandchildren and to really love them in a completely different way than you experienced before. You get to be excited about their lives in the present moment. You get to leave the worry and day to day responsibilities to your children and you get to enjoy them. Enjoy them in their uniqueness. Enjoy them in their wholeness. Enjoy the love they offer you and the vitality they bring to your life. Love them as they are today. Learn from your children about new ways to parent (and grand-parent) so that you can find even more connection, love, and peace together.
Here are a couple of book ideas to help you on your journey as a grandparent: