I’ve Learned To Bite My Tongue And Now They See Me
By Dr. Pat Hanson
My heart just melted looking into the smiling wide brown eyes of my 18- month-old grandchild, my second-born’s son. His father said, “He got those brown eyes from you, Grandma. Did anyone in your family have his strawberry blonde hair?” My heart skipped a beat as I realized those golden locks came from my paternal grandmother, “Ga Ga.”
Recently I look trip to the aquarium with the family. Some parents were pushing strollers: others like ours were letting toddlers run from room to room, marveling as sea lions, giant turtles, and sting rays swam past. Grands and even great-grands sat on welcome benches, shaking our heads and wondering, “How’d we do it?”
I can count on my hands the times I’ve visited my first-born’s son, who turns 17 in February and was raised by his lovely then teenage mom. I have another granddaughter who is now 15. Her mother, not the same woman, kept me from seeing her, too. But time can heal. My son has cleaned up his act and now has a loving wife who is a great mom to two-and-a-half year old Sierra with another one on the way and I am in their lives.
Still, as an invisible grandparent to some of my grandchildren, and a visible grandparent to others, I have learned a few things about being a careful grandparent. I still ache to leave a living legacy in the lives of my invisible grandkids but the monthly support group I run for Alienated Grandparents, and the resources presented here help me think in terms of possibilities and know I’m not alone.
Tips for Staying Engaged with Your Adult Kids And Grandkids
- Keep judgments to yourself. I keep my heart open but mouth closed as I observe two very different parenting styles in my grandchildren’s homes. Notice what you think and feel, but unless you observe something dangerous happening, silence it.
- Your adult children don’t always need or want advice, but everyone needs encouragement. Sympathize with them about the difficulties of childraising and simply tell them they’re doing a great job.
- Worry gets you nowhere. Every time fear slips in, as it will, try affirmative prayer. Your children’s pathways may not be yours, but honor them. Replacing negative thoughts with positive ones isn’t easy, but it can help reduce fear and keep you open to love.
- Express love often. Enjoy every precious minute of your time with them. Know that everyone expresses love in different ways. Find your way and show your love. Now more than ever, it is vital for all of us to be the PEACE, and be the CHANGE the world needs. Our growing grandchildren and their adult parents are our future!
- Alienated Grandparents Anonymous (aga-fl.org) support groups in 50 states and 17 countries, how to start your own, reconciliation success stories
- Joshua Coleman’s When Parents Hurt: Compassionate Strategies When You and Your Grown Child Don’t Get Along © 2008. Free weekly q & a, webinars.
- 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl’s Becoming Grandma reminds us that our adult children parent differently than we did.
- When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand: The 4 Keys to L.O.V.E. Your Grandchild’s Parents by Donne Davis ©2013 (link to GaGa Sisterhood) Tips for handling our feelings
- Use social media and those invisible grandkids may look you up someday. www.GrandparentsAcademy.com educates and empowers grandparents to connect with their loved ones
- Susan Hoffman, A Precious Bond and Grand Wishes: Advocating to Preserve the Grandparent Grandchild Bond and founder of Advocates for Grandparent-Grandchild Connection, resources for families experiencing visitation issues with grandchildren. http://www.grandparentchildconnect.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Pat Hanson is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine:Crone: Women Coming of Age