Thursday, October 21, 2021

Stereotype Grand parenting- Banish the Old Biddy

Becoming a grandparent is one of the joys of ageing, it should not change the person you are or upend your whole life, adapting to the new family dynamic can be most uplifting at this phase of life.

The average age of turning a first time grandparent is as young as forty-nine. Yes you read right 49. So what you want to be called by your grandchildren does depend on your mindset and frame of mind.

You could stick to tradition so it gets passed on from generation to generation or create your own identity or even better “Go Global” and use names from other cultures.

A few names world over that have been traditionally used are: 

India:  Nana/Nani or Dada/ Dadi

America: Grandma/ Grandpa 

Germany: Oma/Opa

France: Mamie/ Papi

Africa: Gogo/Baba or  Bibi/Baba

Cantonese: Mahmah/ Pohpo

It is said, ”You discipline your children and pamper your grandchildren”

Since you’re not the main authority figure for your grandchildren, you can enjoy the adrenaline rush of breaking a few low-level rules when they come over to stay. 

Staying up past bedtime for a special movie night, 

Letting them have the extra candy, 

Staying in their pajamas all day,

Slouching with their legs apart on your living room couch,

Enjoying junk food all day.

While it’s fun to act up with your grandchildren just make sure you don’t cross the line into being disrespectful of your children and their parenting choices. Being a grandparent is also like a second chance at parenting. It gives you the opportunity to course-correct mistakes you feel you made while raising your own children. 

Enjoying your grandchildren at various stages can really make your world go round, especially if you are blessed to live in the same city as all your children, this way you have access to the whole bunch, all at different ages and stages of growing up. 

Let this not deter you if you live oceans away, “Gransnetters”, is trending, you can be on Facetime, Video calls, create a chat group with the whole bunch and you. No stopping you from enjoying the wonders of long distance grand parenting.

TODDLERS: this is the most important phase of brain development, so what you “do” and “say” stays with them for life. They are “copycats” at this stage, so make them copy things that you want to be remembered by. 

The “Why stage” Children at this stage are notorious for asking why — 

Why is the sky blue? Why do birds sing? Why does the grass grow?  

Even some personal questions; 

Why do you have so many wrinkles? Why can’t you walk faster? Why do you wear your pants so high, they cover your belly button? 

Do not take it personally but make sure your answers are honest and given in a fun way from a childlike perspective.

TEENS: At this stage, they are looking for real life answers, how you coped with low grades, peer pressure, drinking, smoking, social drugs, relationships.

Nothing beats real life stories as examples, give them the mistakes you made and the lessons learnt. It will take you down memory lane and you can tell them the secrets you thought you would take to your grave. Tales of your youth that might’ve been boring or embarrassing to your children when they were growing up can be exciting to your grandchildren. Be prepared for a lot of probing, this can spark your own curiosity too, this is also the right time to ask them about their lives, they will share secrets that they wont tell their parents. Just between the two of you. Beware of not bringing up the same topic every time you meet, especially of new love relationships. 

Other fun things like fishing, a game of golf, a shopping trip or maybe a cruise together, they do not need looking after now, just guidance.

You’ll amaze them about your childhood before technology like the internet or iPads and entertain them with tales of what their own parents were like as children.

ADULTS: This is the time grandchildren become very caring and sensitive to grandparents. They make time for you without being forced to, it actually becomes their safe haven in their chaotic lives. The comfort of a loving grandparent beats any date. This is the time to share your recipe book, your beauty tips, your deep dark secrets, not the ones you shared with them as teenagers. Stories and life lessons that they will not be taught in college, it’s from your personal journey, holidays become fun as they now look after you, they would ask for gifts of your time more than anything else. They are patient and listen to the same stories time and again. They will do your hair, cook for you, take you out to dinner or drive you to the doctor all with abundant patience.

Grand parent must-do’s:

The keepers of traditions, it’s special to be able to pass down recipes, holiday rituals and more. You can guarantee your precious family traditions get passed down and make new memories by sharing them with your grandchildren.

Hope for future generations, It’s easy to get cynical about the state of the world today. But seeing that your grandchildren are bright, compassionate and being raised you are reaping the benefits of spending quality time with your grandchildren, you develop new, fulfilling relationships using the wisdom you’ve acquired over the decades.

Be vigilant about playing favorites, especially if you have multiple children and multiple grandchildren 

Grandchildren will also remind you what’s really important when you get wrapped up in worrying.

Every age – from fussy toddlers to teens tackling addiction to adulthood are a wonderful. 

Dive in so you don’t miss out. 

Vinita Alvares Fernandes
Vinita Alvares Fernandes is an Economics graduate, a writer and a Trinity College certified public speaker and communicator

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