Some Grandparenting Lessons

May 31, 2017

I have just returned with Anne from a few days with our daughter, her husband, and their three children.  I am wired to analyze everyone and every situation.  So while there with them for the last few days, my thoughts turned first to being a grandparent and second to how parents relate or as I see it, should relate to their adult children.  I want to address both of these issues. Let me start with some lessons I learned about being a grandparent.  I will just list them as brief bullets that you can think through and flesh out:

  • I am a lot smarter as a grandparent than I ever was as a parent; I tend to see more clearly what really matters and what does not;
  • Digging in the dirt for a boy and playing melodramatic imaginative games for a girl are far more important than being with the right people in the right places doing the right things;
  • What matters to me now is that my grandchildren know that they are loved as seen by spending time with them and listening to them, really listening to them; not by what I give them and surely not by their meeting my expectations;
  • Learning is necessary in order to grow but not everybody is going to be successful academically, and that is very ok;
  • Baths and brushing teeth as well as making beds properly is highly overrated;
  • The push from parents to succeed in school and to be involved in all the right activities creates far too much stress for children;
  • Intelligence should be measured by initiative, interest, and hard work; we learn best even though more slowly when we have to sweat hard and think hard to learn;
  • Children will remember the moments we played with them in the park or read books with them at night;
  • Children are really fun for grandparents because we don’t measure our worth or value by how well they do; parents tend to make that tragic mistake.
And as for the relationship of parents to their adult children.  Well, I am not at all a fan of the extended family being all up into each other’s business.  I don’t want to know nor do I care to know all that my adult children are doing, where they are going, and what they may be involved in when they are away from me.   I don’t want to know their financial standing or the battles that they are fighting in their lives.  They are adults.  They have to learn how to manage their financial affairs and how to fight their battles in a way that is biblical.  I pray for them.  I love them.  I will come alongside them to provide support when invited to do so, and only when invited to do so.  I want them to establish their own family quite independent of me and my family.  I am very glad to spend time with them.  I enjoy their company.  I am always though more than glad to return home and to my life where I live.  Too many families are too intertwined so that it is hard to know where the life of the parent ends and the life of the adult children with their children begins.  The end result of such entangling often is young adult men and women who look like adults but cannot function as adults because they have not severed the physical and emotional connection with their parents.  If you are my age and have adult children, do them and yourselves a favor:  celebrate what you share together with them if in fact they do want to “hang out” with you, but compel them to live independently of you in every way.  Why is this so hard to do?  It is typically hard to do for two reasons:  one, parents whose lives find their meaning only in their children find it impossible to let their children “grow up” and leave home.  They always want to be too heavily involved in the lives of their children.  Two, children who become the center of focus in the eyes of their parents often fail to “grow up” because what they know is that their parents will always be there for them in every way so that such children are even “children” when they look like adults.  This is a major tragedy in our day.  And it will not be resolved until parents learn how to start letting go and turning lose of their children who are simply gifts of God for a season that ends most often far too quickly and long before most parents are really ready to let go.  Let go we must, let go we should.  It is the goal of parents as much as it is the goal of each generation to train up and then to turn over the reins from one to the next.  And so it is and must be until He comes.