Le Diner en Blanc New York

Le Diner en Blanc New York
Lincoln Center 2012

Thursday, June 25, 2009

WHAT GRANDMOTHERS ARE FOR

A few days ago I was interviewed by Bobbi Conner, host of the radio show “The Parent’s Journal,” which is carried by about 200 stations around the U.S., as well as the Armed Services Network. (I’ll post here when I find out when it will be aired.) Bobbi asked some really good questions – including a couple that focus on the value of grandparents spending time with grandkids, and some of the positive aspects of this for the child, the grandparent, and the parent.

As I was thinking about this, I remembered a wonderful interview I was once privileged to have with the amazing anthropologist Margaret Mead. I had been asking her about issues relating to child care. She told me, “The worst thing is just having the mother boxed up with the baby 24 hours a day, which nobody ever meant to have happen in the whole history of the human race. Babies are most likely to develop into well-adjusted human beings when they are cared for by many warm, friendly people – as long as most of these loved people remain in the infants’ lives.”

And who fills this bill the best? The grandmother, of course. We’re the next best thing to a parent. As another stable relationship in child’s life, we’re there. We can give parents a break, and they can relax knowing we'll take loving care of their offspring. And in some ways we’re even better than a parent – well, at least, different. Our role is different -- for one thing we don't have the responsibility of socializing the children so we are free of those pressures. Also, at this time in our lives we usually have more time than a busy parent does, more patience, and more of an understanding that so many of the things we worried about never materialize, so we can be more relaxed than the parents can be -- and than we were as parents.

Then too, sometimes a child needs to talk to someone who’s not a parent but who they know is just as concerned with their happiness and well-being as a parent is – here’s where grandparents come in, to offer a different perspective from the one they can get from their parents, friends, or siblings. We’ve been around the block a few times, and we can draw on a wealth of experiences.

Plus, we’re one more person in their lives they can have fun with.

6 comments:

Gayle Pritchard said...

You hit the nail on the head! We are lucky to be able to play this role, our kids are lucky we can, and our grandchildren benefit above all!

Sally Wendkos Olds said...

Thanks, Gayle, for your good comment. I went to your website -- and love your art! I lived in Cleveland for a short time back in the late 50s and go back from time to time to visit a dear friend, Mickey Stern, who has taken me to some wonderful art exhibits. Maybe I've even seen some of your work there. Good luck with it! Sally

Donne said...

Congratulations, Sally! I'm looking forward to hearing your interview.
I just returned from visiting my 2 granddaughters, 6 and 2. I totally agree with you about being more laid back now than I was as a mother - about everything: germs, mess, clutter, rules. As we get older, we realize that all the things we worry about don't happen so we might as well not worry!
I'm also glad I'm not the enforcer. I have empathy for my daughter who does have to be the "heavy" and get them to brush their teeth and be in bed. It gives me some insight into what I must have been like at that stage because it's hard to remember, now that I'm older and wiser!
Donne

Grandad Baloo said...

We have three wonderful granddaughters (a two year old toddler and 3 month old identical twins!) and we cherish them. Sometimes people raise their eyebrows when they discover how much time we spend with them, but it's hard to think of many better ways to spend retirement. These early years are gone so quickly and there are two-way benefits to be had. For instance, Our daughter gets to hold on to her career and we get to hold the children. Perfect!

Dorothy said...

Came over from Boondocks and what a great blog from one grandma to another..

Dorothy from grammology
grammology.com

Joan Price said...

I'm not a grandmother, but I had two of them, and neither became close to me or taught me about their lives -- something that I would have found invaluable later on. They fed me and asked about school, but being together was obviously a chore for both of us. So sad now -- what I might have learned!

Now that I'm almost 66, many of my friends are grandparents and they involve themselves in their grandkids' lives.

My wonderful Robert, an artist, used to let his little granddaughter watch him paint (he wouldn't let anyone else in his studio). He gave her crayons and helped her develop a love of drawing. He let her know that his favorite gift from her was a drawing.