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. She was experiencing grand insecurities.
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 INSECURITIES – 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.
For more tips on (grand) parenting, follow my Pinterest board.
Wishing you a gleeful week, Tamuria.
Susan Mary MaloneJune 1, 2017 at 8:15 am
I don’t have grandchildren, but I JUST experienced some of this at my nephew’s graduation last week! And what worked for me is just what you said here–I stopped and realized my gifts to him were different from what others’ brought into his life, and we all gave value.
Love the Twain quote.
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 4:41 pm
It’s great when you come to that realisation, isn’t it Susan? Everyone has something unique and special to offer the people in their lives.
MeghanJune 2, 2017 at 7:54 am
I’m not a grandparent, but one thing is for sure: comparison and insecurities affect many of us. Self-acceptance and self-esteem may come with age or take a while to learn. In the end, I think it boils down to what you said–and I love this so much–“The best thing you can do is to be authentically you. Recognize your special talents and skills and offer these up lovingly as your gift.” I may have to quote you on that in one of my social media graphics! It’s so, so true!
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm
It’s the comparison that really makes us insecure, Meghan. Once we learn not to do that it’s easy to rejoice in the gifts we have to offer. Feel free to use the quote, glad it resonated with you. 🙂
Lori EnglishJune 2, 2017 at 11:24 am
Great article as you alwsys have a good way of looking at different objectives. Grandparents and parents are viewed different , but the parents and grandparents can work together and communicating effectively to give the children the best life possible. Article very helpful for all aspects of the family system .
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 4:44 pm
I think that’s the key, Lori, for grandparents and parents to work together to offer the best we can for our kids.
Audrey WeidmanJune 2, 2017 at 11:35 am
As a new empty nester, I’m not quite at the stage you’re at. But I imagine within the next 10 years I will experience what you are going through. Thanks for sharing your perspective…
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 5:18 pm
I think feelings of insecurity can hit any of us, at any stage of life, Audrey, and the tips for dealing with those feelings would work the same in all relationships.
Teresa SalhiJune 3, 2017 at 2:35 am
How precious, no amount of presents can buy the the best grandma in the world award.
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 5:18 pm
Well, at least the best Grandy. 🙂
Beverley GoldenJune 4, 2017 at 9:02 am
This is lovely, Tami! As a child, I only had my mother’s parents as grandparents, as my father’s parents had already passed on. Because of that, there was no ‘other’ grandparents to compete with my maternal grandparents. Interestingly, my daughter is an only child and only grandchild for my mother. My ex’s parents lived far away, so we rarely got to see the. So no experience of other grandparents there either. I love how you emphasized the idea of just being yourself, and bringing your own gifts to the relationship. Not compromising and not trying to compete. A healthy example for your grandchildren and for their parents too!
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 5:21 pm
I love that the Goddesses are lucky enough to have two sets of grandparents each, Beverley. We can all offer something to the mix that will help them grow into amazing adults.It’s when we are trying to be like the other grandparents that we deny the kids our own unique gifts.
Tandy ElisalaJune 4, 2017 at 11:13 am
Loved this article. I’m huge on gratitude and forgiveness. I believe forgiveness is for US:-) It’s a great self-love thing to do.
tamuriaJune 4, 2017 at 5:23 pm
I so agree with you about gratitude and forgiveness Tandy. They really make up the centre post for happy and peaceful living.
CandessJune 6, 2017 at 1:14 am
Such wisdom Tamuria. I am sure this blog is going to land in the laps of many who didn’t even really know they needed it! I haven’t had struggles with “the other grandmother.” She and I both lived far apart from the grandchildren until recently and see and love them separately. I’ve had a harder time staying out of the parenting process. As a grandmother, my job is to contribute to the happy and healthy development and guidance of the grandchildren and leave my ego behind.
tamuriaJune 8, 2017 at 9:57 am
I think it can be really hard for all of us grandparents to know when and when not to share our parenting ‘wisdom’, Candess. I actually really enjoy sharing the grandmother role as I know we all have such different things to offer and when our kids need it, we can work together to help them out. That way, everyone is a winner.
Joyce HansenJune 7, 2017 at 2:39 am
As we grow up, we don’t think about the new roles that await us. Please add grandmother extraordinaire to your list of accomplishments.
tamuriaJune 8, 2017 at 9:58 am
Haha, thank you, Joyce. If nothing else, I’ll be remembered for trying my best. 🙂
Apolline AdijuJune 7, 2017 at 7:40 pm
Wow, I love this Tamuria. I do not have grandkids but I agree with you that comparison and insecurities affect us all, not only grandparents. Your experiences with your grandkids remind me of the quality time I spent with my grandparents.
tamuriaJune 8, 2017 at 10:00 am
It’s lovely that you have those memories of quality time with your grandparents, Apolline. Yes, it’s true, comparison and insecurities affect us all, no matter what stage of life we’re at.