I have a soft spot when it comes to my grand-parents. I was raised with both sets of my grand-parents and even lived with one for a few years. One of my grandfathers had a disability and my grandma retired early to take care of him. The other set are divorced with my grandma living with us and my grandpa remarrying. Hopefully that gives you an idea of how dynamic my elders were when I was young.
What I Experienced
I have had a lot of experience with my grandparents collectively and each one has a distinct experience that sticks out to me.
My grandma Gladys (married) is a very traditional woman, she always found a way for me to earn money through various chores. One of my favorite and most frequent was mowing her lawn. She had a very particular way about mowing it, in the front it was always North to South and in the back East to West. I still don’t understand today but it was one of those things that she liked so I never questioned the way I cut her grass.
I also remember my grandpa Jerry (he had the disabilities) was always accepting, not only of myself (I'm adopted) but of my children who are all step-children. This kind of acceptance was beyond anything I could have ever asked for or even expected.
One of my grandmas Anita (divorced) was always there no matter the time or issue. When I played sports in high-school her room was always a sanctuary to just recover from practice or games. It was also a place to just sit and either chat or watch a show (she loves cop shows).
My other grandpa Vaughn (divorced) has always been a hard-working man. He also has a great sense of humor and is always building or finding things that can make anyone laugh. During my summers as a kid I would spend a week or two visiting him and doing all sorts of stuff.
What I Learned
I learned a lot from my experiences with my grand-parents. I learned things like how to always work hard but never take yourself or your work too seriously. Always be willing to have a laugh and be humble in all things. I learned to make time for others regardless of what it is you want to do. If someone is willing to take the time to be with you oblige them in listening or just being with them.
I also learned that no matter what position you are in you can help guide children whether that is teaching them the principle of earning money or showing children how to stick with what makes them happy without judgement. One of the biggest things I have learned is how to be accepting of almost anyone. This acceptance also comes with a heavy-handed respect that is initially given but through reciprocation should continue to grow indefinitely.
How This Shapes Children
Through all of my experiences and the things I learned I can state with absolute certainty that grand-parents shape children. Not only in sharing their knowledge but also showing different sides of compassion and other vital life skills. They can also surprise us by showing us various ways of teaching us whether that is monetarily, goals, or just fun. Overall I consider myself blessed to have the opportunity to learned and have time with each of my grand-parents. I could not imagine my life or even myself as a person without them helping raise me through the years.
As a side-note I would recommend spending as much time as you can with your grand-parents. Take the time to take photos, videos, diaries, anything you can to capture who they are. You cannot imagine the amount of grief you can have once one is gone.
Parenting as a Choice not a Right
I know that many will disagree with the statement above about parenting being a choice and not a right. The frank reality as I see it, is that parents have become entitled in their parenting duties. I mean this in the sense that parenting has now days become a chore to many parents who feel they should receive recognition for doing the bare minimum.
Parenting is a Life-Time Commitment
A good example of this would be always being there for your child whether good or bad. To be perfectly fair I have the attitude of if you teach your children well enough they will want to do better in turn. The saying “give a man a fish and he can eat for a night, teach him how to fish and he can eat for a lifetime” is a perfect example of this. If you teach your children the right values and beliefs they will in turn practice and continue to teach those principles. Simply put if you look at parenting as a life-long commitment it will spur the drive to help teach your children to become independent and successful.
Trust and Respect Make Strong Families
When it comes to the question of “how can we make our children successful” I provide the metrics of trust and respect. These values are similar in thought but ultimately are different in reality.
In regards to trust this a personal measurement for how much you would trust your child given extreme scenarios. As an example pose the question “could my child handle watching a younger sibling” dependent on your initial reaction you can gauge your trust with your child. If you immediately say “oh yeah, no problem” chances are trust is high with the child. If your reaction is something to the effect of “no that wouldn’t work” or “probably wouldn’t be the best idea” then you child may be lacking trust. Naturally trust is impacted by the child’s age, which is a strong baseline that you children must pass through.
If you can instill some of the values above I can promise a happier and healthier family. Not only because they are good practical sense but also because I live my life by these rules and can attest first hand they work. Changing how a parent perceives the responsibility of parenting can help create a sense of love and patience when dealing with children. This coupled with the understanding that 1 day is a very small portion of the lifelong commitment with a child can also help with patience and love. It will also help you create a strong foundation with your children to ensure a strong relationship in the long run. While trust and respect can help you measure and examine your children objectively. Which in turn will allow you the help shape and guide your children as they grow up. All of these factors working together dynamically can create a thriving family.
Lastly I wanted to put up some recognition to my daughter Vanessa. This week she won her school spelling bee. I would like to note that this was done on her own accord. She set her mind on it and practiced hard to make sure she could achieve it. To go with this her humbleness is almost staggering given her age and accomplishment.
A father to 3 amazing kids Hayden, Kaitlyn, and Vanessa . I am happily married to Megan Miller (@Megan_Bethann) and we live in Pleasant Grove Utah.
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