I’ve been told the reason you have kids, is to get grand kids. It’s an indication of the joy that grandparents often feel in that role. It’s not an indication that their own children were unlovable. They see these young people as the budding legacy they will leave when they are gone.
Grandchildren reciprocate the adoration. They love their grandparents. They get as excited about grandma coming over as they would to see the ice cream man parked across the street. This mutual love in the relationship sets up an opportunity for your child to be mentored and loved like no other. The reason the role has that potential power, is that a grandparent doesn’t usually carry the weight of responsibility to train and teach daily that the parents bear. They feel freedom to love unconditionally.
Truth be told, the grandparents like the intermittent nature of the grand parenting relationship. You may have heard one joke that after a long weekend with the kids, the most beautiful site was the taillights of the car as their adult children drove off with them again. Grandparents need time to rejuvenate and come back again fresh and happy.
Many times I’ve worked with teens who’s struggles began around the death of a grandparent, which tells you again how important that relationship can be. One of the most poignant experiences I had in the wilderness as a therapist, was with a young man who had become depressed and turned to self-medicating after the death of his grandpa. There was some inside story between he and his grandpa about a butterfly, his grandfather’s favorite insect.
While in the desert, in a moment of real sorrow, he felt his grandpa’s presence and felt comforted. Suddenly a butterfly came and landed on his shoulder. He expressed to me that he believes this was his grandpa’s way of telling him he was there for him. From that moment on, he began to make amazing progress in his recovery.
Even if your grandchildren are teens and seem embarrassed by you or seem to do fine without you, please don’t ever underestimate your power as a grandparent. You don’t need to be hip and cool. That’s not what your young people need. They need your love and presence.