Friday, September 14, 2012

They Belong to Their Parents

They are not ours. Oh, they belong to our family tree now, and they are our grandchildren; however, they are not ours. They belong to their parents.

I find my relationship different this time around with the new babies. Not bad. Just different. With my daughter who was younger when she had her children, I was quite involved in how to raise babies. It was like getting back in the saddle again and learning to feel at ease once more. My daughter and I had a closeness over those babies that was very special. Maybe it is that process of watching your own child go through the process of pregnancy. Her pregnancy was difficult. We spent much time together at the hospital and doctor's office. Knowing my daughter was going through birth was a very tense time. She was my baby.

With a daughter-in-law and her family, it is a time of trying to feel my way into my place in all of this. Often I feel like an intruder. I feel much closer to my daughter-in-law with a relationship that grows with each passing day. Yet so often I feel on the outside. It is my problem. Not theirs. I am missing my granddaughters and their relationship with their cousins they have only seen once. I am missing my family.

In all of this, I ask myself what I really feel about the situation. I love my son dearly. He has been one of my best friends. I struggle watching him struggle with crying babies and the times he feels helpless. He was a colicky baby, so I do understand. Yet with older parents I find that my place is different than that with my daughter who had babies in her 20's.

Things I adhere to:

1.    My son and his wife are in charge of the babies.
2.   Their way of raising a child might be different from mine, but I have a responsibility to follow their lead.
3.    I am there to help them. Not to take over.
4.    I should not shoulder all of the responsibility of the house, because it is again their responsibility and their home. Life will be normal one day.
5.    James is the father and Lisa the mother. I am there to encourage them with their children and not take over the children.
6.    The children have a routine. I need to do all I can to support that routine.
7.    I need to follow the rules and not play the grandma card when I watch the babies.
8.    I am a parent of a parent. My son needs me to support him in learning about his children. He and Lisa are the doers. I'm on the sidelines waiting for the team to need me. If babies cry.....parents are on the first line of defense.
9.    I need to keep my mouth shut if I get frustrated and to be the peacemaker not the problem solver.
10.  I need to leave me outside the door when I visit and find joy in watching them become parents.

It is different scenario this time. I love Lisa and James and watching them grow into the role of parent. I think maybe I understand the grandma sitting in her rocker watching the family. I think perhaps she sits watching as the family she started grows into a family of their own. Perhaps that is really what grandparenting is all about. We pick up where needed, especially those raising their grandchildren. We are the Red Cross of parenthood. We do what is necessary to keep our family protected. We also step aside when the young family is learning. We hand over the present and the future to these young parents having done our job with our own families. Now we get to hold babies and give our grandchildren all that we can to help them grow into loving, caring adults.

Isn't it nice that we are never too old to change and to learn. I celebrate you grandparents who are learning along with your children. Good for you.


  1. At one time generations ago parents may have been too frightened to learn or attempt the new. As our generations have experienced new freedoms and information flows into our hands and minds we are questioning openly what our ancestors may have thought within. We are all born with the wondrous organ called the brain, as we live our lives we create a mind, how it is nourished by those caring for us is what will build the life it is about to live.

    Ken Ollenberg
    Saskatoon Canada

  2. Thanks, Ken. I agree completely. I love being a grandparent who can give the wisdom of the past as well as adventures of the present and dreams for the future. We grandparents can open doors to creativity and conversation.