I have been a grandmother for a few years now (grandchildren aged 6 and 4) and it is interesting to note the difference in how I am with my grandchildren as opposed to my own children.
As parents there are so many pressures…you know them well. They come from within and without…our own thoughts as well as the media and other people in general.
As a grandparent…I don’t feel many of these things (except the responsibility to keep them safe when I am looking after them). I don’t care about the media or other people because I now know what matters.
They matter, I matter and our relationship matters. The same of course applies to parents but those ever present, ever pressing pressures often lead to stresses and strains that bring parents to boiling point and beyond.
I am not saying I don’t have my moments with the kids… but the simplicity of my life combined with the years of learning what does and doesn’t work enable me to ‘catch’ the hot potato and find a cooler place to put it.
I know many of my contemporaries experience the same thing as grandparents. Life comes full circle and the childlike wonder and sense of joy is often shared between grandparent and grandchild as the mainstay of the relationship.
These relationships are important for everyone. Past generations often had a lot more support from their community and extended family. Children spent a lot more time ‘out playing’ as this was considered a lot safer than it is today.
Whilst travelling in India I noticed a lot of smiling faces in areas of poverty and deprivation where you might expect the opposite. I saw that these people had a sense of belonging. Living a communal life where grandparents and other family members shared the load, parents had a much wider circle of support.
I am sure the modern day phenomenon of families spreading far and wide leaves some parents feeling isolated.
We all deserve to get our needs met and at the same time accept the inevitable compromises that come with family life. Finding the right balance is certainly a challenge and I believe the pivot by which the wheel of a functional family turns.