Almost every grandparent thinks their grandchildren are pretty special. Grandparents are allowed to be biased – after all, every kid deserves a doting grandparent to counter the nuisance of stressed out, nagging parents. Grandparents enjoy a privileged relationship with their grandchildren. ‘All care, no responsibility’ is often cited as a license for fun… grandparents seem to relish the opportunity to spoil their offspring’s children, delighting in sharing the antics of once-juvenile parents. Which child hasn’t been enrapt by the telling of tales about their parents’ childhood pranks and mishaps?
The presence of these older ‘parent-figures’ provide an important anchor in a child’s life and form part of a broad network of support for families battling against all sorts of challenges in the modern age. Grandparents bring the wisdom of experience, the luxury of leisurely time, the perspective of an involved observer to the nuclear family mix. When parents of toddlers are exhausted and stressed out, grandparents provide empathy and practical support. When tensions run high with rebellious adolescents, grandparents often mediate the flaring tempers and help to restore harmony. And for many children, their grandparents are the only reliable constant in a life marked by change and unpredictability.
Grandparents seem to have a special sense of presence – while parents obsess about being good (or superhuman!) parents and doing everything perfectly, grandparents have an uncanny appreciation of the absolute wonder of life presented by a grandchild. They ignore the dos and don’ts of the parenting manuals to just ‘be’. Children gravitate to their calm, and thrive in the glow of grandparent attention.
31,000 Australian children (aged 0-17) are raised by a grandparent.
Feast of Sts Joachim and Anne July 26 – parents of Mary, grandparents of Jesus
Talk about being blessed! – not only did Joachim and Anna raise a sinless daughter, they also scored a perfect grandson! With such holiness among their offspring, they could be forgiven for having an spiritual inferiority complex. Yet, by all accounts, Joachim and Anna performed their parenting responsibilities with grace. Their feast day on July 26 is a day to honour them and all grandparents for their contribution to our lives.