Role Model Grandparents:
Show me the way.
My brother in law and sister-in-law, Mike and Kathi Webb with all their kids and grandkids!
They have done an amazing job creating a close family!
We all pattern our behavior based on examples we are shown, good or bad. Maybe it’s not a conscious choice, or maybe if you’ve been exposed to a negative model of behavior you consciously choose to behave in a completely different manner. When I became a grandparent, I had several friends in mind who were exemplary grandparents I hoped to copy.
The first was a couple I met in a baby preparation class when I was expecting my second child. They were expecting their first grandchild and they were so excited, ready to learn as much as they could to be prepared for their grandchild. They radiated warmth and love, and I knew their grandchild was going to be very lucky. I might have forgotten all about them but as fate would have it, several months later we bought a house, and those lovely people lived down the street! Their grandchild was a month old, and my second child was born a few months after we moved in. We became walking friends so I heard about their interactions with their grandchild and I admired their involvement.
As the years went by I witnessed how their close involvement paid rich dividends. They had a tight relationship with their only grandchild. From the time he was just a toddler they had sleepovers every Friday night and he stayed with them until lunch on Saturdays. I admit a part of me was a little jealous. I couldn’t even imagine a life in which I knew someone was going to have my babies spend every Friday night and they would all be happy about it! What was it like for that child’s parents to know that every Friday night they were going to sleep all night completely uninterrupted–a fantasy for most people with young children. But beyond that, I envied how completely and totally the grandparents loved that child! What security and comfort it must be to know you are loved like that!
They remained close to their grandson through the years, often picking him up from school, helping with homework and attending his school events. Because they established that solid base, he continued to visit even when he was a teenager with his own car and a choice of how he spent his time. They reaped the benefits of the seeds of love and time they sowed.
The neighborhood couple remained in my mind years after we moved. They were great people and wonderful role models, the kind of grandparents I hoped to emulate. My husband’s brother and his wife are also excellent grandparents I admire. They have seven grandchildren ranging from five to seventeen years old, yet they make time to make each child feel special even though five of them live in other states. They travel long hours to spend time with grandchildren and make a big effort to attend celebrations and special events. Even the teenagers seem anxious to spend time with them, a true testament to their grandparenting skills!
If my husband and I can come close to being the kind of grandparents Mike and Kathi are, our grandkids will be fortunate. I doubt my husband can build the outdoor play structures his brother has made for his grandkids, and I know my grandchildren will never look forward to my cooking the way Kathi’s grandchildren do, so we’ll have to step up our game in other areas. Although I’m still a novice in the grandparent arena, I observe the key element both sets of my role-model grandparents possess is the gift for making each child feel loved and cherished.
Grandparents play an important role in children’s lives. I think of grandparents as an extra layer of care giving a child a soft place to land, a bonus parent to step-in if necessary. Most importantly, grandparents provide unconditional love. As I journey further on the exciting adventure of grandparenting, I am grateful to have good role models ahead of me on the road pointing me in the right direction. I hope to travel as successfully!
My grandson Callister on his 12-month photo shoot. Picture courtesy of his other grandmother; she did a great job!