Life Times Newsletter

Summer 2008
Vol. 10, No. 3

Grandparenting: Hugs, cookies and chocolate for breakfast

Rosilee Trotta, LCSW
Urban Youth & Family Specialist


Many of my friends and co-workers are growing old. They must be, even though they appear youthful in looks and ability. After all, they are becoming, or have recently become, grandparents.

Do you remember as a child how old your grandparents seemed to be? Could you even imagine being that old yourself? Pam Brown has stated, “Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you’re just a mother. The next you are all wise and prehistoric.”

I’m not sure about the wise or prehistoric part, but from experience I can tell you that becoming a grandparent is, indeed, wonderful.

“Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation,” says Lois Wyse. There is barely any success more rewarding than watching our children parent their own children with love and skill. Certainly, our relationship changes a bit as we figure out issues that revolve around adult children who now have children.

When my first granddaughter
Ryleigh was barely a week old, I was pushing her stroller with pride around the mall for our first shopping excursion. I leaned over and whispered that I could envision great times ahead that featured chocolate for breakfast.

Amazing how differently we think when it comes to our grandchildren in comparison to our children. Unless we are raising our grandchildren, we are free from the responsibility of managing their intake of fruits, vegetables and vitamins. We can instead focus on the finer things in life.

Grandparents say “yes” more than no because we can. Grandkids figure this out pretty quickly. They’re much more likely to ask us for anything they feel has only a 50/50 chance with parents—like cookies, soda and whatever else has forbidden likelihood at home.

I was eating dinner with my son, daughter-in-law and three children a few weeks ago. Morgan asked me if she could do something she knew her parents would refuse. Even I had the sense to say the decision was mommy’s or daddy’s to make.

When the inevitable pouting began, everyone was grateful when I suggested a trip to the playground with sister Hannah. The simple act of blowing dandelion seeds (in already infested areas, of course) releases much tension in 5- and 8-year-olds. And grandparents have lots of experience in dandelion-seed blowing.

In fact, grandparents excel in numerous things that can be tailored to individual children. With 5-year-old Tyler, it’s putting together difficult puzzles. Lucas prefers capturing in-house bugs to be released outdoors, but 3-year-old Emma insists I ride the small, low  horse, while she bounces on the one with springs. Brynn and Elijah prefer to be carried from place to place with an occasional “boo” eliciting paroxysms of laughter. They have yet to master mobility on two feet.

Sam Levison once said: “The simplest toy, one which even the youngest child can operate, is called a grandparent.” Sam Levison was absolutely right!

Phil and I are now grandparents of eight. We revel in each one. Any “wisdom” we have to share with those of you new to the joy of grandparenting comes from lessons learned from our grandchildren.

· Be thrilled to see them. Let them know their importance to you.

· Get them sometimes without parents. They (and you) act  differently with no parents around.

· Do something with them individually. We plan an activity around each child’s birthday involving only that child. It’s enormously gratifying for us all.

· Create atmospheres. Time with grandparents does not have to cost money. Children love taking walks, weeding gardens, baking cookies, making dinner.

· Realize how quickly they grow. You have experience in this already.

    This is your time to create memories that last a lifetime. Enjoy!


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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller