Publisher’s Note: The articles on grandparenting that the Eyres wrote for Meridian Magazine in 2020 were so popular that they are now being expanded and turned into a series of seminars called “Grandparenting 101.” Today’s article will expand on how we can each develop our skills in this vital role and will tell you how to get involved in the Zoom Seminars.
Author’s note: If you are like most grandparents, you value the role, and wish you were better at it. We have struggled with this challenge for some time, not only trying to live it, not only writing about it, but by actually creating a “how-to” grandparenting course. All you have to do to be invited is to send an email to [email protected] saying “I’m interested.” You will then receive a return email giving you the details and inviting your participation. We appreciate Scot and Maurine Proctor (very experienced grandparents themselves) for making Meridian Magazine our partner in what we hope will become a Grandparenting Movement—something the world needs right now!
Consider a few facts:
- Many of us will be grandparents for 40 years, more than twice as long as the time we had to parent a child in our home.
- A majority of grandparents say that their grandchildren are the best part of their lives.
- Yet most feel inadequate and unprepared for the role—not quite sure how to approach it, and a bit worried about stepping on the toes of their kids, the parents.
- There is no guidebook or owner’s manual for grandkids—there aren’t many resources or reliable things being written to help us.
- In other words, grandparenting is not really a thing yet. It’s like parenting was 50 or 60 years ago—we just try to figure it out as we go along.
- Many wonder if grandparenting should be proactive—setting goals for grandkids and for our relationship with them; or whether it should be reactive—trying to step in only when there is a serious issue or when parents ask for help.
- Most grandparents want to be useful and relevant to their grandkids, to be effective, to make a difference. But there are a million questions—is financial help a good thing? If we have several grandkids, should we treat them all the same or help the ones that need help most? How do we get to know them individually and independently from their parents? If parents are the real managers and stewards, how can we be good supplements and consultants? How can we work in synergistic partnership with our children to give grandchildren what they need? Who should take the initiative in this partnership, the grandparent or the parent? How much should we try to help our grandchildren spiritually and with their testimonies? What are some of the “best practices” or grandparenting strategies and ideas that really work?
- Lots of parents form parenting groups to learn from and help each other. Can that also work for Grandparents?
How important is grandparenting anyway?
Good grandparenting may have the power to save the world. As parents are more and more busy, it really takes a team effort to raise children, and grandparents and parents who form that kind of a team can change everything.
Done well, grandparenting helps everyone—It helps the parents by giving them back-up, support, and a little more time for themselves. It helps the kids by giving them a kind of nonjudgmental, unconditional love and acceptance that is easier for grandparents—and may teach them values and give them a level of security that parents can’t do by themselves. And it helps us, the grandparents, by giving us a kind of joy and fulfillment that is available no place else in the world.
But good grandparenting isn’t easy. There are a lot of mistakes that can be made, and some of them can damage our relationship with our children. Instead of trial and error, we need to learn from other grandparents who have more experience than we do. We need to learn from each other and get serious about being the best we can be at this important and long-term role.
Turn the Hearts
In a world where both parents working is the norm, and a world where grandparents are young and capable for more years than ever before, opportunities for “teamwork” families abound. As grandparents, we have more time, more resources, more experience, and are better positioned to turn the hearts, to be the trunk that connects branches and roots—in both directions.
Let’s focus on that phrase “turn the hearts.” It is the spirit of Elijah. It is a powerful admonition that occurs in all four of our Standard Works. “Turn the hearts of the children to the fathers (parents) and the hearts of the parents to the children.” And then follows some dire warnings:
“Lest the whole earth be wasted,” “Lest the whole earth be cured.”
Notice three things:
- Hearts have to turn in both directions. We often think of this scripture as being about ancestors and Temple Work, about turning our hearts to our departed ancestors, and indeed, it is about that. But the other half of it is about turning our hearts to our children and grandchildren—about prioritizing them and doing all we can to love them.
- Without this turning, mortality is cursed or wasted, since the purpose of this life and the spirit world and millennium that follows is to form our own loving and eternal families as parts of our Heavenly Parents’ family. If we fail to do this, God’s plan is unfulfilled, and this mortal purpose is cursed and waisted.
- Turning hearts not only means loving, it means prioritizing and trying hard to become the best help and support we can be to our children and grandchildren.
Remember that, speaking of God’s plan, President Nelson has said “Salvation is an individual matter; Exaltation is a family matter. And President Lee said, “The Church is the scaffolding with which we build eternal families.
Just how Grand can Grandparenting be?
Every family and every situation is different, but one thing that is always true of grandparenting is that we get out of it about as much as we put in to it. Good grandparenting takes time and thought (and often some good ideas and best practices from older grandparents who have “been-there, done-that.”)
There are several extraordinarily powerful ways to view the kind of thoughtful and deliberate and effective grandparenting that most of us hope to do:
- As the creation of our only true and lasting legacy
- As the best way to keep ourselves young
- As the best thing we can to help our children
- As a generation 1 bond with generation 3 that will last into the eternities
- As a truly worthy priority and absorbing challenge for the third and fourth quarters of our lives
- As the limbs and branches that you (the trunk) connect to the roots.
How much better to look at it as that kind of positive opportunity than to look at it negatively like some misguided grandparents seem to do:
- As a nuisance and distraction and unfair demand on the freedom we have worked for and the less-trouble life style we deserve
- As doing things with our grandkids that the parents should really be doing
- As a new millstone around our necks just when we got rid of the first one
- As a trade-off with the things we’ve saved for and waited for
- As an inevitable battle with our own kids over who knows best
Why these Seminars?
Grandparenting today is where Parenting was 50 years ago—there are few books and resources available to give us the answers and ideas we need. And becoming an effective proactive grandparent is not easy. We have to learn how to communicate with a new generation of kids, and we have to learn to teach and to give to them in ways that do not step on the toes or bypass the parents.
Doing this well—making the most of this highest priority new role of grandparent—takes a plan. And it’s not just grandparenting—its learning how to live well in this Autumn season of life. What we have been trying to do in our latest books, presentations and social media is to explore ways in which we can inventory our skills, our assets, and our opportunities even as we come to appreciate and understand our stewardships and priorities more clearly. Here are some of the things we will be discussing in our Grandparenting 101 Zoom Seminar:
- Why Grandparents may be this world’s greatest untapped resource
- Why the Empty Nest hurts and how to ease the pain and learn the pleasure
- How to give advice without offending adult children
- Extending financial help that empowers rather than entitles
- Building trusting, confidence-giving relationships with grandchildren
- How to replace the three deceivers of control, ownership, and independence with Three Authentic Alternatives that bring more peace and joy
- How to prioritize relationships over achievements for the rest of your life
- Making sons- or daughters-in-law a true and real part of your family
- How to release your role of manager and replace it with your new role of consultant
- Why “just over the hill” is the best place to be in life (the remarkable gifts of age)
- Working from the inside out—designing the new YOU
- The “Ten Empty Folders” approach to planning the rest of your life
- Why 65 is the new 45
- The art and power of Grandparenting: What you can do that parents can’t
- Seven Decisions you can make now that will enrich the full remainder of life
- How an Empty Nest Marriage is different, and how to make it better
- Grandfather’s Secrets and Grammie Camps
- It takes a village: Forming an efficient partnership with your kids for your grandkids
- Separate break out groups for Grandmothering and Grandfathering (let’s face it, they are two different things)
How to get involved We are now forming our invitation list for Grandparenting 101. To get on that list and to be part of these seminars, simply send an “I’m interested” email to [email protected]. Then, within a few weeks, you will hear back from us as we plan these seminars. We want your ideas, and we want to be part of a Grandparenting Movement that just might change the world (but for now, let’s just worry about helping and changing our own families for the better!)