Grandparenting Resources: The Background Story

My own search for good grandparenting resources started even before I had grandchildren. Before my son married, I was quite sure I would be the "ideal" mother-in-law: gracious, friendly, not intrusive, inclusive, gentle, patient, fun to be with, yada yada. My husband and I were so keen to have grandbabies we would do anything-- if there were mandatory licensing programs, we would have signed up.

Phil's lovely Filipina fiancee and I really hit it off. We were both working in front-line social work at the time of their courtship, both strong on the rights of women and predisposed towards all the stereotypical "ethical and just" social worker attitudes. Marylen also shared my Christian values and came from a large family where sacrifices were made to provide children with affirmation of worth and the most accessible formal education.

Ed and I traveled to the Philippines to attend the nuptials. We were thrilled when, even before the wedding, there was allusion to their desire for children. Ed and I were so 'ripe' for grandparenting and we actually felt (continuing with this fruity metaphor) that we might go oldy-moldy if we didn't get the opportunity to grandparent soon!

Our long-held worry that we might miss out on grandparent-hood was quashed pretty rapidly once the 'knot was tied.' Alyza was born in the Philippines almost exactly a year after the wedding, and her little sister, Angelika, popped into the world in Canada almost exactly two years later. The wedding anniversary and both babies' birthdays are in October. We feel so blessed!

What? You mean that having raised children doesn't automatically ensure that we will know how to effectively relate to, care for, discipline-- and maybe even raise-- our grandkids?

The short answer is "NO".

We may have been excellent parents whose children-- like the sterling mother of Proverbs 31-- respect and bless them, even bypassing the shrink's couch in early disgruntled adulthood.

But that childrearing was in another time. And with that baby we were attached in the profound way that happens most often during the biological process of gestation and birthing.

Oh, yes, yes, yes, we love this little grandchild in a way that we can hardly remember loving any other human being who has come into our life before.

But to do a good job of 'grandparenting' we are likely going to need to check out and apply either the parenting style the child's parents have opted for as our major point of reference, or if we are doing the parenting ourselves, pull something from the many excellent grandparenting resources.

What I noticed that was different from my generation's parenting is the more conscientious, egalitarian and gentle approach taken by both parents in many families. I say, thank God! If this is your experience with your children and their children, they might be practicing a democratic parenting. If your children are choosing to birth their kids using a doula and/or midwife, "wearing" the baby in a sling, sleeping together with the kids (or maybe using an "arm's reach" bed) in a family bed, and opting for organic cotton diapers, they are likely subscribing to

attachment parenting. It is evident to me that both of these styles are respectful and nurturing, although they may appear to be uncomfortably "child-focused" to those of us who grew up in, and/or practiced, more authority-based parenting.

If your adult children are choosing to parent the way they themselves were parented, then you should have little problem with stepping in to support what you know works. If they are practicing the aforementioned styles, (i.e., democratic or attachment parenting, or more likely a mix of the two)you will see that there is a lot of room for grandparents to learn about and support our children while contributing to the care of our grandchildren. There will be differences of philosophy and opinion, but once you recognize the beneficiary of the parenting style-- whatever it is-- your embrace will ensure more opportunities for your input.

As a natural grandmother I have been challenged to LEARN to support my grandchildren's parents in their healthy choices. They are my chief grandparenting resources. When grandparents and parents support practices that are healthy and life-affirming, the grandchild grows up in a win-win-win environment.

Natural Christian Parenting

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