Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of Meridian Articles to and about grandparents. See the first three articles here, here and here. A new article runs each Tuesday. Richard and Linda, who spend more and more of their time these days writing and speaking to Grandparents, would appreciate your feedback (via comments) on each of these articles.
The Gospel teaches us of the eternal family links that will always bind us to our grandchildren, and in the future life, we may all be of a similar age! But for now, here on earth, we are their adoring grandparents, their cheerleaders, their biggest fans, and their champions!”
This is not the kind of champion we see on the podium after winning an Olympic event or the player that gets carried off the field after winning the game. This is where the word “champion” becomes a verb as well as a noun, and where you become the person who elevates others as their advocate, encourager, supporter, defender, protector, and opportunity-maker. This is the kind of championing where you stand behind the podium, invisible, and cheer for the person you have mentored and trained.
In this context, who would you rather champion than your grandchildren?
How do we get better and better at being their champions? How do we become their biggest cheerleaders and strongest supporters and encouragers?
Much of it is natural and instinctive, because we are so proud of our grandkids, and transforming that pride and love into active “championship” is just saying it more, making it more obvious, and basically just assuming the role of their agent, their promoter, their facilitator, and their personal source of confidence.
Beyond that, we need to realize that grandkids need a different kind of championing at different ages. Think about the main thing they need and the main thing you can be for them in three different age groups:
Grandkids from Babies to Eight-year-olds: Be their “Ringmasters”
Eight to sixteen: Be their Buddies
Sixteen and up: Be their Consultants
Let’s look deeper at each of those:
Be a ringmaster for grandkids under 8
In a classic old circus, the ringmaster was out there having a good time and drawing us all into that good time. He appreciated every act and led the applause. He introduced us to the joy!
With young grandkids, just show them a good time. Take them places, show them things, spoil them a little (but always in concert and communication with their parents). Enjoy them, and let them enjoy you! Be their ringmasters in the circus of their young lives.
Be a buddy for the ones between 8 and 15
Kids have a lot of friends, but during these years, they need a special kind of buddy—one who knows them, one who loves them unconditionally, one who has always believed in them, one who is always there for them, one whom they can trust and confide in, and to whom they can and will tell anything they want.
Also, with these “middle aged” kids, moving into adolescence, you’ve got to be tech savvy and online. And email won’t cut it! Just be, electronically, whatever and wherever they are. And as they evolve from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram or Pinterest or Snapchat or Whatsapp, or whatever comes next, try to evolve with them.
Be a Consultant to those over 15
Often when kids get to this age, their parents still treat them as kids—and they need someone to treat them as adults. They need someone who wants to know their opinions and who respects those opinions.
With these upper teens, establish a relationship of trust in which they will ask for your advice, or at least listen to it. Explain to them that a consultant is not a manager or someone who tells you what to do or pushes you around. A consultant is someone with a lot of experience who can help you with your goals and help you get what you want and become what you want to be.
So, Grandparents, rise to the occasion, let your grandkids know how important they are to you! Champion them! Be their Champion! And comment on this article and send in your own thoughts on this topic, and examples of how you champion your grandkids.
It’s the best thing you can do for them, and the happiest thing you can do for yourself!
Richard and Linda Eyre’s parenting and life-balance books have reached millions and been translated into a dozen languages. As fellow Baby Boomers, their passion and their writing focus has now shifted to the joy of Grandparenting. Linda’s latest book is Grandmothering, and Richard’s is Being a Proactive Grandfather, each of which is now on sale on Amazon or in Deseret Book.
The Eyres have 31 grandchildren and counting, so they have an ample laboratory to test their grandparenting ideas. Their Mission Presidency in London also resulted in another 500 “children” so if you count the children of those missionaries, Richard and Linda may actually have thousands of grandchildren. At any rate, they want to share thoughts from you and hear thoughts back from you, so please comment on this and future articles.