BY RICHARD AND LINDA EYRE
The interest in and passion for more proactive grandparenting is exploding. We find ourselves speaking to grandparents all over the country, and more than a thousand have enrolled in our online Zoom grandparenting101.com course. Grandparenting is where parenting was 60 years ago—it is becoming an art and a skill, and people WANT it. Let us give you just one example:
The other day we were invited to speak to a group of CEOs of major companies in Houston. All of them were grandparents, and they wanted us to help them get better at it. Linda was busy getting ready for the wedding of our own granddaughter, so I (Richard) went on my own. The audience was full of questions and enthusiasm. Here is a brief summary of the evening’s discussion:
“I started off by asking them two questions, 1. How would your grandkids describe you? And 2. What do you want your grandkids to remember you for?”
Their answers to the first question ranged from “The old guy with lots of money” to “The lady with the big house and all those rules.” The second question got more interesting—they wanted to be remembered for their support, for their love, and for their deep interest in everything their grandkids did or wanted to do.
I had come prepared to suggest some even more specific answers to that all-important second question about what we want to be remembered for as grandparents, and I wanted to create four penetrating mental images that they would retain and that would influence their priorities and their paradigms in leading and managing their three-generation families. So, I put this slide on the screen:
I hope, as grandparents” I said, “that we can be remembered first for being part of an effective team with the parents, and second for being all four letters of T.E.A.M.—The Trunk, the Ear, the Assembler, and the Match.”
As the Trunk, we are the connection between the branches of our children and grandchildren and the roots of our ancestors. As we tell our grandchildren the stories of their great and great-great-grandparents, we give them a sense of identity and belonging. Data and surveys prove that the most resilient and best-adjusted kids are the ones who know and connect to their ancestors.
As the Ear, we ask and listen with great interest and without judgment. We want to know everything about how our grandkids feel, about what they like and what they want to be. We take notes on what they say in our grandparent’s ledger, and they know that we think they are unique and special and that we will always be there for them. We take them on individual grandma dates and grandpa trips, and we reach them on their own communication preferences—text, facetime, and their personal social media favorites.
As the Assembler, we gather them for reunions, dinners, and get-togethers of all kinds with their cousins whom they bond with for life, and with their aunts and uncles who become parental back-ups. We assemble them electronically too, on Zoom calls or in Marco Polo groups, and regardless of distance, we keep everyone in touch and up to date on each other.
And as the Match, we support them materially and financially in ways that motivate rather than spoil them, that stimulate initiative rather than entitlement. If we can afford it, in communication and agreement with the parents, we do a 50-50 match on the money they earn and save (in a custodial Roth account or a 529 Education plan), and perhaps on their college tuition, or in response to “matching grand proposals” they submit to us for experiences they want to have but can’t afford on their own.
As individual grandparents, we each have to figure out the specifics of our own T.E.A.M. approach to grandparenting, but thinking it through and coming up with our own strategies in our own specific situations is the first step in becoming a truly effective, proactive, difference-making grandparent.
Don’t miss one or both of these
wonderful books on grandparenting!
For more on the Eyres’ grandparenting approaches and strategies, go to grandparenting101.com.