Sharing: Time Talent Treasure
BEING A GRANDPARENT
First to clear the record, there is no absolute for 100% correctness. One has opinions about the subject before becoming a grandparent. And then becoming one changes the whole landscape. One is not the PARENT, unless one has to act in this role due to some unfortunate circumstance which prevents the natural parents from acting as such in the care of the children. Not to be considered here for the point of discussion.
Anna Quindlen, an international best selling author, Pulitzer Prize winner and now a first time grandmother has learned certain things in this her first experience as explained in her new novel, NANAVILLE. “BUTT OUT! HANG BACK!” she offers most sincerely. “Or you will only see your grandkids on holidays and in photos.” Our wisdom, our past experience, our mistakes, in other words anything that we have learned from parenthood, when shared, will come across as “THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.” If your offspring want help, wait for the invitation. They will do most everything differently. How flexible are we or can we adjust to a different way without comment?
Grandparenthood, in this era, seems to be more difficult than ever. It seems in many ways that we are living on an entirely different planet. The work life of our children is different. They move often; they change their employers frequently; where as dad used to work for one until retirement. They have many more outside personal interests which often delays marriage (?) and also delays having a family and children. And having children may involve science as well as the ‘natural’ way. Their opinions about baby clothes, equipment, and anything material is definite and a must have. Babies have style and color choices and fads. We had borrowed items from anyone who had a baby before us and now don’t use. The only no no was putting boys in pink. More Moms stayed home and we talked and learned from each other and the Doctor books. Now they google. Historically, children and parents worked and lived together until death do them part. A grandmother in the house was a tremendous benefit to help with the house work or the crying baby. A family helped raise the child. This support is often not present today for many reasons. We may not even live in the same state.
The differences are many and one could go on with stories forever. We Catholics (and other religions) have an enormous issue that remains, often not talked about and when it is, it is a major moment of tension. Unfortunately, it often divides a family. Our ‘children’ don’t go to church. Our ‘children’ don’t bring their children to church or participate in the Sacraments. Even if we spent our money and time on years of Catholic education, All of our ‘children’ are too busy or just too… If we are blessed, we have some child or children who continue to go. But often some grandparents have no one who continues in their religious worship. What to do? No one knows when and if a person who leaves their religious affiliation will return. Or what will awaken the need. And how will we react, if our grandchildren are brought to another church, not Catholic? Our patron Saint, who will listen and nod, is St. Monica. St. Monica was St. Augustine’s mother. She stayed with him, much to his dismay, and prayed for 25 years for his less, much less, than saintly behavior to end. He committed most all of the major sins for years with no intention of stopping. But St. Monica hung in there and prayed. Augustine eventually met some very holy men who were inspirational in turning him around. He became one of the most important men in our church history and one who is just as important to our understanding of our religion today as he was then. You are always reminded of the importance of prayer and certainly this and patience is what we must do. Judgement is for the Lord. Not for us unless we want to divide the family and live in misery because WE know what is the right way to live.
Differences: your children came into the house by throwing the back door open and slamming it into the wall. We yell, ‘don’t slam the door. You are putting a hole in the wall!” Your grandchild comes in the same way, slamming the door against the wall and we yell “I am so happy to see you. Let me give you a hug!” First and foremost being a parent or grandparent should be full of love. Our grandchildren will want to come to us, if all they know is love and acceptance from us. And much of how we all learn is through imitation. Let them see our love for church, Jesus, and neighbor. Ask their parents, if they can come to church with us, especially for the holidays. Love and patience always and first. Resentment has no place in love, even when we don’t agree.
PS: Being a Grandparent is a blessing and a gift. Treasure it when you are fortunate enough to receive it.
by Kathy Reilly