By Judy Reiss
I think that here in the United States we are starting to go “full circle” or at least like most of the rest of the world! And here is why I say that.
The role of the grandparent hasn’t really changed, but it is returning to the role that it had, almost from the very beginning. No longer is a grandmother a little old lady, dressed in black and just sitting on the porch and watching the world go by! Actually, I am not sure that this revered member of a family ever did nothing. But, boy has her role changed or come full circle and back to where it used to be with Grandma taking the lead role in raising the children as well as keeping the household together. And what about Grandpa? Well, although in most families he no longer farms the land or fells the trees for firewood, I’d like to think he stays busy, although he never did have a hands-on roll in raising the children. But Grandpa is still grandpa and is considered a good guy who is always a good touch for whatever a child or even an adult needs or wants! I think that somewhere along the way, instead of retiring and moving to some place where it is warm and there are all sorts of services for retirees, grandma and grandpa are back in the saddle and raising the children of their children.
I know that there are many of you that are saying, “That is not true. I see my children and raise them between the times I get home from work and when they go to bed. Maybe about an hour a day!”
If you are wondering why I am making such a controversial statement, here is why I do and how I back it up. If you go to any local games in your community, such as soccer, Little League, hockey or lacrosse, you will see the stands or the parking lots filled with grandmas and grandpas. And where are Mommy and Daddy? Working, that is where. And don’t think for a second that grandma is there just because she loves the game and really enjoys sitting on those cold, hard bleachers! Nope, she is there because that is where her loved one is playing and might need her. Actually, I spent this past summer a few hours a day sitting on the beach. And as reading on the beach in the bright sun is difficult, I became an avid people watcher. And here is what I saw, and not once but at least 96 percent of the time! The children who came to the beach with their mothers were loud, obnoxious and unwilling or unable to do whatever their harried mothers told them to do. It was sort of a free for all at the expense of everyone else who came to the beach to relax and enjoy the ambiance.
However, regardless of the age, almost 100 percent of the children who were there with their grandmothers, appeared to be having a much better time and one reason was grandma was not just more relaxed, but both child and adult knew that she was the “boss” and she only had to speak once. Plus, it would seem that grandma knew the rules about behavior as well as politeness, which mommy and daddy have completely forgotten, if they ever knew. And for me, politeness goes a long, long way!
And this is the part that bothers me. Does anyone ever thank grandma ore grandpa for their roles as caregivers, disciplinarians or dispensers of unconditional love? I really don’t think so. Because life is stranger, mommy and daddy still think of their parents as adults who are at their beck and call. Plus, I think that they are unable or unwilling to realize that they are no longer able or willing to raise their children. And because they work so much and I guess, feel guilty about it, they are allowing their children to do and ask for anything that they want. Their children are never wrong and never required to behave or God forbid, be polite. And if grandma and/or grandpa didn’t step in to help raise these children, we would have society and children running amuck!
Do I have the answer? Of course not. For me to tell the young parent to actually parent will land on deaf ears. But if they are lucky enough to have parents and/or grandparents who are willing and able to help raise their children, I do have a suggestion. Treat your parents with the respect they deserve! And where it is possible, remember their birthdays and holidays even ones like Mothers and Fathers Day. And a little show of appreciation once and a while goes a long, long way! A few flowers or a box of chocolates for absolutely no reason other than you appreciate all they do for you and your children will reap amazing benefits!
That is it. And as a grandmother who has helped raise her grandsons, I tell you that the pride I get every time I look at those young men today, is absolutely immeasurable and I wouldn’t trade a minute of those days for all the gold in the world! And believe it or not, every single time I spent time with those young men, they still tell me that they love me when they leave. And for me, I still find those words and that gesture what makes me believe that 76 isn’t as bad as I thought.