It’s amazing how grandchildren can awaken all those youthful insecurities you thought you’d overcome.
Those precious parcels of perfection come with a bunch of other people and suddenly you are left questioning your importance in the scheme of things.
Perhaps the greatest threat to the calm equilibrium you’ve worked so hard to achieve (right?) over the decades are the Other Grandparents.
Let’s face it, for most of us, sharing children we adore with others who have an equal status in their lives is a new adventure.
The majority of parents don’t have to share their position in their children’s lives with anyone else.
There may be other important people – grandparents, godparents, uncles, aunts, even step-parents – but the parenting role is theirs alone.
GRAND INSECURITIES – THE OTHER GRANDPARENTS
So adjusting to sharing the grandparenting role can be challenging. Right away you are wondering if you will, at the very least, be loved as much as the Other Grandparents.
This is a common feeling for new grandparents and many I’ve spoken to have expressed their astonishment at feeling insecure, nervous and even, at times, jealous.
By this stage of life we know better than to compare ourselves with others, right?
But then, we’re still human and sometimes those feelings we’ve labelled as foolish and petty, slip right through the tightly woven fabric we’ve designed to keep those sentiments at bay.
The emotions are fine – believe me, you are not alone in feeling this way.
How you respond to those feelings is the key element in keeping yourself, and your family, happy.
GRAND INSECURITIES – HOW TO DEAL WITH NEGATIVE FEELINGS
The first thing you should do is acknowledge those feelings and forgive yourself. Those insecurities are just little steps toward further self-growth that will ultimately make you a better role model for your grandchildren.
Once you’ve acknowledged the feelings, it is easy to be aware of how you are responding to them.
Are you judging the Other Grandparents unfavourably? Usually, we use negative judgements in order to feel better about our own perceived inadequacies.
Do you voice those judgments to other family members? Read my post, When You Should Bite Your Tongue and Zip it Gran.
Your words could create for real the very situation you fear and where your insecurities have stemmed from.
Do you try to compete with the Other Grandparents? Rather in time or money spent with the grands, this is also a mistake.
Kids can see through this and will ultimately use it against you to gain what they want. And it’s totally unnecessary.
Recently one of the Goddesses remarked to me that her other grandmother bought her lots and lots of presents.
“You don’t buy me as many presents, Grandy,” she said.
“It’s probably always going to be that way honey,” was my reply.
Less than 10 minutes later this same Goddess was cuddling me so tight I could barely breathe.
She said; “I love you Grandy. You are the best Grandy in the whole world.”
GRAND INSECURITIES – BE YOU
And that’s really all I want to be. The best Grandy in the whole world. I don’t have to be the best grandmother, or the best nan, or the best granny, grandma, nanny, whatever. Just the best Grandy. The best I can be.
It means I don’t have to get into a bidding war with the Other Grandparents, trying to outdo the gift giving gambit.
In fact, if the Goddesses ask if I have a gift for them (even if I do), I tell them I don’t. I don’t want that to be their expectation of me.
A friend who recently became a grandparent expressed concern because the Other Grandparents were wealthier and could do more, on a material level, for her grandchild.
I pointed out to her that she will offer a unique set of skills and talents to offer the child and will be dearly loved regardless.
Being the best Grandy I can be means I don’t have to compete with time spent with the Other Grandparents.
I have already set clear boundaries about the amount of time I have to spend caring for the Goddesses. If I tried to increase this because of feelings of competitiveness and insecurity, I would be sacrificing other aspects of my life – a poor example for the Goddesses and an unhealthy situation for me.
I’ve seen this happen with a lot of grandparents, particularly grandmothers. They will drop everything, rearrange their entire lives, and even put their lives on hold, in order to spend extra time with the grandchildren.
This makes sense if you don’t get the opportunity to see your grandchildren on a regular basis. It even makes sense if you just can’t get enough of seeing them and you are happy to give your time so freely.
However, if you are putting off plans, refusing to even look at your bucket list, and feeling any kind of resentment, then that’s a signal you are doing this because of your insecurities and it could lead to friction later on.
If you hear yourself complaining you don’t have time for other things, it’s another signal you could be doing it for the wrong reasons.
The best thing you can do as a grandparent is to be authentically you. Recognise your special talents and skills and offer these up lovingly as your gift to your grandchildren.
GRAND INSECURITES – OFFERING YOUR GIFTS
Are you a wonderful cook? Be sure and spend time cooking with the grandchildren. Read my post, 10 Reasons You Need to Cook with Your Kids.
How many times do you hear great chefs crediting their grandmothers, or grandfathers, with giving them a love and knowledge of cooking?
Do you love to garden? Share this with the grandkids. Read my post, 7 Reasons You Need to Be Gardening With Kids.
This teaches them a love of nature and gives them wonderful insights into how life works.
Maybe you are less interested in the domestic aspects of life, but love to take your grandchildren to fun places, or even shopping.
Do this happily. You are making marvellous memories which are the foundations for a wonderful legacy.
With me, it’s arts and crafts, as that’s what I do for a living. At various times, all the Goddesses have expressed joy in the fact we almost always end up doing art or making crafts while they are here. I know it will be something I am always remembered for.
Grandad doesn’t share any of these activities with the Goddesses. But he is king when it comes to taking them to the park. Or playing dress ups with them. He is an awesome playmate. That is his legacy.
We all have something wonderful to offer these kids and when we get over our own insecurities we can rejoice in the fact that there are many different people, with different interests, talents, and knowledge to share with our grandkids.
So, acknowledge your feelings. Forgive yourself. Then offer your own special gifts and forget about what everyone else is doing.
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.