Grandparents can be a joy to their children and their grand children. My parents have been a great blessing to us and our children. I believe that it is not by chance that they can bring us joy. I am sure they have put in effort to make sure that they can bless us rather than be a burden to us. Here are some of the secrets that have made them successful grandparents:
- Continuous learning – I believe that we need to continue to learn and improve ourselves no matter how old we are. It is especially important when we get older. My parents read a lot of self help books and are continuously improving themselves in every area of their lives, be it health, emotions, spiritual, etc. They are very knowledgeable and they become wiser as they grow older. They become more open to changes and also grow to become more accepting of the modern time, rather than getting stuck in their old ways and insisting that the old ways are the only way to get things done.
- Health conscious – I think it is very important to take care of our health so that we do not become a burden to our children and our grand children in the future. My parents have maintained a very healthy lifestyle in terms of their diet and exercise all their lives. They do not take their health for granted, even when they were young. They make sure that everything that goes into their bodies has nutritional value, and not just for the taste alone. Since they have good health, they are able to enjoy a lot of things and lead a lifestyle that people their age who does not take care of their health can’t do, such as hiking, etc. They are free to do the things that they didn’t have time to do when they were young, rather than just spending their time going to (or staying in) the hospital.
- Learn to let go – I believe this is the hardest thing to do for most grandparents to do. However, it pays to consciously try to let go as this benefits everyone. It is helpful to realize that we already had our share of raising up children (when our children were young), and now it is our children’s turn to raise up their children. We should give our adult children a chance to raise up their own children, they will thank us for it. Some grandparents still wish to take over their adult children’s households and insist that things should be run the way they want it. They act like they are the parents rather the grandparents. This will create a lot of friction. I appreciate my parents for trying their best to let us take charge of our own family, and as a result, we and our children long to have them with us as often as possible.
- Put their grandchildren’s interest above theirs – This is sort of common sense, yet it is hard for some grandparents to do. It is normal for grandparents to want to do some things special for their grandchildren, and to win over their hearts. There is nothing wrong with that. But the ‘special’ things that are done or given shouldn’t be harmful to the children. Some grandparents let the need to win over their grandchildren’s hearts to overwhelm them so much that they go to the extend of doing harmful things to the grandchildren. Or for some reason, they feel that they can prevent accidents. For example, they let their 1 year old grandchild handle the steering wheel on their lap while they go for a ride around the neighborhood. Or they let their few month old grandchildren play with sharp objects like screw drivers and tiny screws. My parents have been very creative and have made every moment they spend with their grandchildren interesting and meaningful, without harming them, but instead, do things that are good for them. For example, they would buy special fruits for the children to eat, or bring them to educational places to visit, such as the aquarium, etc.
- Have some hobbies of their own – I feel that it is important that grandparents should not make their grandchildren their sole entertainment or focus all their attention on the grandchildren alone. They should develop some healthy hobbies and have some friends so that they can divert some of their attention to something else, and not breathe down their children or grand children’s neck or scrutinize everything that happen in their children’s household. My parents are always busy with something or other, and their life is very colorful. My mother loves sewing, and she will spend her free time sewing things for her house or ours. My parents would attend seminars or some activities that are being run in the neighborhood. As a result, they have a very balanced lifestyle and don’t spend every waking moment of theirs finding fault with us. We feel comfortable to have them around, and their grand children can enjoy their presence, rather than feeling tense in their presence all the time.