Editor’s Note: This is the final article in the Eyres’ series on Grandparenting. Meridian has been pleased to partner with Richard and Linda in helping Grandparents to gain the skill-set that allows them to be more effective in helping their grandkids and in creating strong 3-generation families. In March, the Eyres’ six-month Grandparenting 101 course begins again through Zoom and email, so now is the perfect time to register at Grandparenting101.com. You can also get involved by sending an “I’m interested” email to [email protected]
We feel personally that we have come full circle in our parenting and grandparenting journey, and many Meridian readers have been on that journey with us for a lot of years! When we started Joy School nearly 50 years ago, many of you joined that do-it-yourself preschool program and worked at teaching your kids the 12 “joys” that would prepare them for life (we were all way ahead of our time with “social-emotional learning” which today may be the biggest trend in education.)
Then as we all raised our kids, many of you read our Teaching Children Responsibility and Teaching Children Charity—and then helped make Teaching Children Values a #1 New York Times Bestseller.
And then an amazing thing happened to us all: We became grandparents!
And now, when you think about it, we are hoping to do the same thing all over again—to teach Joy—but this time it is to our grandkids, and both the kind of joy and the way we teach it is different within this relationship between generations 1 and 3—between grandparents and grandkids.
An amazing development was happening in the world when many of us were starting to raise our first children. Parenting was becoming a thing! For a long time, the only well-known parenting book out there had been Baby and Childcare by Dr. Benjamin Spock, but then, about the time many of us were having our first babies, there suddenly seemed to appear a rash and a rush of parenting books—so many different parenting philosophies and theories, most written by behavioral scientists. Parenting was becoming an art, or a skill, or a science, or something that could be worked at and mastered or at least something we were more aware of and concerned about.
Our own parenting books did well because they were unique—written more from a management perspective than from a psychology paradigm. We saw families as an organizational and management challenge and believed that if we had the right goals and the right plans, we could increase our chances of success. We felt that “joy” was the goal for preschoolers, “responsibility” the objective for elementary age, and “charity” or sensitivity for adolescents, and tried to fill our books with methods and stories and approaches that could teach those things. Our books were more of an offense and less of a defense (so many other parenting books were essentially “If Johnny does this, then you do this…” or “if you have this problem, try this…” while ours were more “here is the goal and the plan.”)
Now, on the other end of the circle, we are, in a way, trying to do the same thing with grandparenting. What is our goal or mission as grandparents? How do we work effectively with our children-the-parents, who we know are the ones who have the stewardship over these kids? How do we become more effective in supporting them? How do we make a real difference with our grandkids? How do we change our approach with grandkids of different ages or phases? How do we establish individual relationships with each grandchild? How do we help them financially if they need it? How do we connect them to their ancestors? How do we give them a sense of identity and resiliency?
And yes, a new look from a new perspective at the same old parenting questions: How do we teach grandchildren Joy, how do we teach them responsibility, how do we teach them charity, how do we teach them values, how do we teach them faith? And how do we do it without stepping on the toes of parents?
And there are other new questions: How do we balance their needs and our kids needs with our needs? How do we set boundaries? How do we enjoy and fulfill this phase of our lives and yet still be there for them when they need us?
Lots of questions. Lots of good questions.
As we have tried to answer them for ourselves, and talked about them with our grandparent friends (and with our own kids and grandkids) we have pulled together a lot of ideas and a lot of perspectives.
You are probably doing the same.
But none of us has to re-discover the wheel! We can learn from what other grandparents have figured out. We can have access to ideas that are tried and proven. We can modify them to fit our unique families and our particular situations.
And THAT is why we have created Grandparenting 101, a six month Zoom course that involves a 90-minute Zoom seminar once a month, and a weekly Grandparenting Bulletin email.
We have now completed our first time through the course, and had about 1,000 grandparents involved, and we are starting it over again next month, in March.
And you know what? It is FUN! We get to look into the eyes of fellow grandparents on our computer screen and talk about our dreams and our hopes for our grandkids and our 3-generation families, and we get to have feedback and inputs from so many good and smart grandparents out there, each of who have their own ideas and their own questions.
There is strength in numbers. There is also comfort and commiseration in numbers. It’s nice to know we are not in this alone. It’s nice to know that a lot of grandparents are worried about the same things we are. It’s nice to know we all struggle and often fail, but it’s nice to know that we share the experiences of a special kind of joy that only grandparents understand!
We have come to believe that this Grandparenting thing is becoming a movement. We are grandparents for longer than any other generation—some of us will be grandpas or grandmas for 40 or 50 years! And grandparents are trending toward being more proactive, more involved, and more wise about how they do things.
And in a world where parents are busier and busier, and where children need more and more help and guidance, this grandparenting movement couldn’t come at a better time.
We hope you will take a long look (and a thorough read of the overview) at Grandparenting101.com, and then we hope you will register for the course and become active members of this movement. You can join for free if you need to, or by paying a little portion of the costs of the course if you are able to.
We look forward to welcoming you and running these climactic finishing laps together as we complete this circle, from Joy to Joy.
Linda and Richard Eyre are New York Times #1 Bestselling Authors and frequent contributors here at Meridian. They have turned the focus of their writing, teaching and speaking from parenting to grandparenting. You can reach them at [email protected]