For better or for worse, I started telling my grandkids about my life before they could talk – or even understand what I was saying! I can’t help it! I’m just a talker. I always have been and I always will be.
From my perspective, there is nothing more natural than sharing your successes and failures, embarrassing mistakes and glorious victories with your family.
Yes, you will occasionally get an eye-roll or two as you describe the “hardships” that you faced as a child.
But, for the record, we really did store our food in bags that we hung from the window of our small house. And, at 8am on a mid-winter morning in Ontario, Canada, it really does feel like you are walking up hill, both ways, in the snow!
In any case, since I am such a talker, I was somewhat surprised to hear about a study that found that 42% of grandkids don’t know what their grandparents did for a living and 41% don’t know if they have any special skills!
Also surprising was the fact that less than 20% of the 1,000 children polled thought that their grandparents were inspirational.
If these statistics are true, it makes me wonder why our grandkids feel like they don’t really know much about our lives.
Are some of us treated like baby sitters by our kids rather than important family members?
Do we feel embarrassed to talk about our lives?
Are we afraid that our confessions will be met with eye-rolls and groans?
Do we simply think that our grandkids aren’t interested?
Do we see our grandkids so rarely that we want to stay in the moment rather than rehashing the past?
Personally, I’ve always found my grandkids to be fairly responsive to a balanced two-way discussion. The trick is to get them away from all of their electronic distractions – video games, iPads, TVs, etc. But, maybe, I’m just lucky!
Since I became a grandparent – and especially since my most recent grandson was born – I have become very aware of the important role that grandparents can play in their grandkids’ lives.
Being a parent is tough. Really tough. When you come home from a long day at the office, you barely have the energy to cook dinner, get the bath ready, make sure everyone has brushed their teeth and get the kids to bed.
Because, in most cases, we don’t see our grandkids every day, we can afford to take a slower approach.
We can listen longer and speak more slowly.
We can share our mistakes without worrying that the special children in our lives will lose respect for us.
We can be kooky and funny, serious and inspiring.
We can make a difference.
But, in order to do all of these things, in my opinion, we need to open ourselves up. We can’t assume that no-one wants to hear our stories. We can’t worry that people will project their aging stereotypes on us.
We can only be ourselves – our wonderfully, authentically, beautiful and deeply flawed selves.
I’m really curious what you think about this topic. Let’s share our experiences and give each other some perspective.
How well do you think your grandkids know you? Do they take an interest in your life? Do you go out of your way to share your successes and failures with them? Why or why not? Let’s have a chat!