By Judy Reiss
What do you think about grandparents taking responsibility for bringing up their grandchildren? I don’t know about you, but the idea of starting all over again and bringing up little children, and then middle school children and then the most difficult of all, teenagers is not only impossible but scary! It isn’t that I don’t adore my grandchildren, but times have changed so much in the time since my children were young, let alone me, that to start all over again and actually be responsible would be a nightmare!
Don’t tell me that I am wrong and raising these children wouldn’t be that hard. Think about it. Almost anyone can care for a baby. Diaper changing isn’t that difficult and especially these days with disposable diapers. And by the time the sweet smelling and adorable baby gets to middle school, they have learned your rules. And although they might need a firm hand, they are still wonderful and the jewel in your crown!
And then comes the teen years. Now, not just their lives have changed but yours have changed also. These days teenagers are more aware than we ever were. Every teenager now has a computer which gives them the opportunity to go anywhere and learn anything. As the head of your household this means that you too have to learn how to surf the web and more importantly, turn on and actually use your computer. And don’t think that you will be able to share your grandchild’s computer because there aren’t that many hours in the day! If you are attentive grandparents, you will learn how to make sure that your “child” is actually doing what you got him or her the computer for in the first place.
So, now you have figured out how to use your computer and how to make sure that your loved one is actually doing school work on theirs. But the computer is just the beginning.
Every teen in the world these days has a cell phone. I think if you refuse to get your grandchild a cell phone, you will probably be brought up on charges of child abuse! And believe me, once they get their phone, the art of conversation, at least with you, goes out the window. The child who had difficulty crayoning and staying within the lines, can now text so fast that his or her fingers go so fast that you have no idea what they are doing. Now texting isn’t really typing. It is a whole new finger language that appears to be impossible for adults to learn, at least, at that speed. What you, as their adult mentor needs to be sure and do, is figure out how to make sure they are only befriending and texting to other teens or adults you know are safe. And that is harder than it sounds.
On the good side, the rules that were in force when we were young no longer make any difference. Keeping their rooms clean and making their beds no longer count. The teens of today are so busy with school work, being on some sports team, preparing to go to college or some trade school and being in love, household chores are just not in the game. And if you think you’re tired at the end of your day, just try and keep up with your teen! And believe it or not, many teens worry about what is happening in the world today, which when we were young would have been more like science fiction.
My suggestion is this, regardless of whether you have to actually raise your grandchildren or not, they need you! Grandparents have moved from an elderly couple who is only seen on holidays and your birthday to someone who will listen to problems, sit on hard, cold benches to watch a game and of course, help your teen how to thread their way through their teen years. Unfortunately, these days, parents are seldom if ever available to help their teen because they have to work full time just to keep bodies and souls together. So, grandma and grandpa have to step up and fill that void. And what do grandparents get in return? Well, believe it or not, it is unconditional love. Of course, the grandparent must return that unconditional love too! And believe me, the grandparent gets this wonderful reward that you get from no one else.
So, remember, live, love and if you allow yourself, be happy! These can be the best years of your life!