One would think that with parenthood far behind me, the worries associated with it would be in the past as well. Surprise! As a grandmother for almost nine years, I worry about all sorts of things in my grandchildren’s lives. Some understandable, some just ridiculous. But I do know this: I won’t stop worrying.
I am thrilled and grateful to be a member of the Grandparent Club, yet I’ve also found adding another generation to the family means another layer of worries. While I’m not a helicopter grandparent, I do know that changing times, the internet and all the wonderful advances we now enjoy in our everyday world also brings new and more worrisome concerns for both parents and grandparents.
Ok, as the grandmother of three and step-grandmother of two, here’s my Top 6 list:
- that they will have a happy, healthy childhood.
- about their healthy development – socially, emotionally, physically and mentally.
- that they will be safe from harm, accidents and serious illness.
- that my grandchildren will be bullied.
- about the challenges they will face and if they will have the strength of character to handle what life hands them.
- that they will find enjoyment in life and be able to pursue what makes them happy and they enjoy doing.
For me, one of the fundamental similarities between parents and grandparents is that we worry about our children and grandchildren and want the best for them. Many of the worries are beyond our control. And, our time and energy that we spend worrying could be used instead to enjoy their company.
So, this brings my thoughts to two areas:
- Parents and grandparents need to be able to trust that each is looking out for the best interests of the children. Unless there is an abusive or neglectful situation, we ought to focus more on being supportive and less on worry.
- What can you – as a grandparent – do to contribute to a positive outcome in each of your worries? Try these: (a) Model the behavior in your own actions and words. (b) Create a safe environment in your own home and interactions with the children.
A great example of putting these two thoughts into action is bullying. You cannot stop someone from bullying your grandchild. That said, here’s what you can do:
- You can teach skills to help the child prevent bullying and cope with any bullying behavior they experience.
- You can volunteer at their school or another school to help with anti-bullying programs.
- You can be a safe place for the child to talk about anything and everything.
- It would be better, however, if you could directly approach the parent and say, “I am worried about bullying. What can I do to help or talk about that with (grandchild) or at his/her school?”
And, finally, a third idea to be proactive, when it comes to your worries for your grandchildren:
- Go to the child’s parent(s) and say, “I am worried about _________. What can I do to help (ensure their safety, health, etc)”.
Hmmm…for me to stop worrying about my grands is like me winning the lottery. I can hope I would win, but the odds are against it. I would hope I worry less, but that’s probably not going to happen!
MOM has surprised me. I thought I knew my daughter very well, yet she’s come up with some reasonable ways to address my grandmother worries. Ways to be proactive, feeling and knowing that I can take positive action to help ensure the safety and well being of my grandchildren. For my own peace of mind, too, and that’s much better than just sitting here fretting.
Honestly, I’m going to work on using her suggestions to ease – at least a bit – my overactive mind, when it comes to worrying about my grands. This is something I can do, something I will do!
MOM’s final suggestion:
Take ownership of wanting to contribute positively to the situation that causes your worry, rather than judging whether or not the parent is doing well enough or even up to your standards in that area. It might just open up some really good conversations and opportunities!