The Foundation for Grandparenting recently conducted a survey regarding the question of whether grandparents were indispensable as part of the family.
Their findings? Seventy-seven percent of the subjects interviewed agreed that grandparents were indeed (surprise!) indispensable.
Hog wash, I say. As wonderful as I am, I am completely dispensable and so is my lovely wife. Seventy-seven percent of those polled must have been in need of a sitter for this Friday night.
My grandkids would get along just fine without us — if going without my wife’s stellar meals prepared, excellent bottles created, and being burped beyond belief by me means getting along fine.
Stories, rumors and myths
That’s what most of these informational snippets are concerning what grandparenting entails. Seven easy ways to be the best grandpa ever! Blaa Blaa Blaa. The only thing that could possibly make me a better grandparent is money. Mo money.
So what are the myths? Read on.
Good grandparenting comes with study “they” say
What a load. I just leave good grandparenting books on the bathroom shelf so “they” think I am anxiously engaged in perfecting the already perfect grandpa.
Grandparents are subversive. They undermine the parents in order to do things their way
The only thing I have ever done in this vein was to teach a short phrase to the kids. “Grandpa rules.” Fits every occasion.
Grandparents encourage tantrums
Have you read anything sillier than this? Kids don’t throw tantrums for grandparents. Well, they may throw one, but when it is ignored or said child is shown to a quiet place where their tantrum may be thrown in peace for as long as they wish, they tend to try another tactic.
Grandparents are good for the short-term, but they have lost their endurance
Them’s fighting words. Where do these people think we old folk were when they were growing up? We went to their games and sewed their cheerleading outfits, hosed down their football pads, paid their movie rental fines and closed their bedroom doors when they reeked to high heaven. Short-term? Watch how short-term our wills are. (BTW, our endurance was at best, marginal, so take that.)
Grandparents give in to everything a child wants
No, never. Not unless it coincides with what we grandparents want. Let them yell all they want; we just turn our hearing aids down.
OK, they may have a point here. Most grandparents are eager to help take care of their grandchildren. Sometimes, however, it’s OK to say no. If you just need a break from babysitting, then, delicious as the children may be, let the parents know that you have to pass. You’ll have more energy the next time you sit.
Grandparents get frustrated easily
Nope. Now, I admit that, as a parent, I got frustrated with my grandchildren’s parents. If I had to raise my voice and send out flares to get their attention while they had their ear buds in one more time I think I would have lost it. Grandchildren? No. They can dance and sing and paint with dinner and eat my flowers and chase the chickens all they want. There is something about being a grandparent that is like a tablet of powered valium mixed with a grandparents’ fiber drink. We understand priorities. And we also know that the grandchildren have to go home sometime.
Grandparents don’t know what the child really needs
Yes, that’s because we are blind and deaf with advanced age. We’ll just have to hope that our incredible instinct and our massive knowledge will be enough to see the children through.
Grandparents break the rules
At this point, may I remind all that grandparents wrote the rules! We will rewrite them if we so choose. We may let them stay up and get into silliness that they could never get away with at home. You knew this and yet you asked us to take them for the weekend.
Grandpa’s house is grandpa’s house
This is not as much a myth as it is complete and utter fact. Grandpa’s house is not a democracy. Parents don’t make the rules at grandpa’s house. That’s the difference between grandpa and the teenager parents pay to babysit and follow their rules.
Grandparents may not remember grandchildren’s names
Not a big deal. I can’t remember yours either.
And finely, grandparents have a certain je ne sais quoi,and that isn’t a myth. I really don’t know what quoi is.
Maybe “quoi” is a love for youth and innocence. Quoi could be a desire to give back to society. Maybe we grandparents see the best of ourselves and our kids in these beautiful creatures God let us help care for.
Or, maybe “quoi” is that my wife and I are going to grandparent our way using the experiences and knowledge that gave us these grey hairs.