Each of your grandchildren is an incredible gift!
In our research, we asked grandparents to give us a word or phrase to describe their feelings as a grandparent. Overwhelmingly, the most common word they chose was “blessed.” Being blessed with the privilege of seeing your grandchildren grow is truly a gift. And viewing your grandchild as a gift is a distinguishing trait of an effective grandparent, even in difficult situations.
In the same survey, almost 15% of the respondents painted a much different picture of their feelings about grandparenting, using words and phrases like: “devastated,” “bittersweet,” “guilty,” “sad,” “challenging,” “getting a second chance,” “heartbroken” and “difficult.” No doubt there’s much more to the story in those situations, as numerous grandparents are facing daunting challenges in their grandparenting and are looking for hope. They would benefit from the support or the listening ear of another grandparent.
Our goal at Grandkids Matter is to affirm the idea that, even in difficult situations, we grandparents have an opportunity to strengthen and/or rebuild our families, and a big part of that is believing each grandchild is a gift. If you identified with some of the negative feelings about grandparenting that I mentioned above, then viewing your grandkids as gifts may require enormous patience and humility. The grief of losing a grandchild—or losing access to grandchildren—can be crushing. One of the most-read articles on our website is about grandparents who are estranged from their grandkids.
But in any circumstance, when you think of your grandchildren as gifts, blessings, sacred treasures, and even miracles, then the purposes of family life take on a new and deeper meaning. And when you ponder how the gift of grandchildren has enhanced your life, then it quickly becomes clear that you’re living a blessed life.
We can’t take anything for granted in our families, great or difficult. But if we can maintain the perspective that the events in our family life can be gifts—especially when they get heavy or hard—then by faith we can trust there is a greater purpose which we must persevere and discover.
Having recently experienced the loss of my wife and the grandmother to our thirteen grandchildren, I’m challenged to find the good in being a single grandparent. Her greatest joy and delight was being with her grandchildren, however there were many times of testing for me during her long illness. There were days when I didn’t think I had the capacity to provide what she needed, yet at the end of the day there was still enough strength left in my tank to go on.
Maybe you have felt that way as a single grandparent, a full-time custodial care-taking grandparent, one who is watching your grandchildren suffer because of their parents’ poor decisions, or maybe you feel “devastated” or “sad” as a grandparent for some other reason. Please remind yourself—every day—that your grandchildren are a blessing, a gift. There is uncommon strength in that thought that will help fill the gap and keep you going through difficulties.
Here are some practical ways to celebrate the gift of grandchildren and support those grandparents who are facing tough challenges:
1) Share with another grandmother (or grandfather) how blessed you are as a grandparent. Be specific and elaborate as you describe the blessings.
2) Reach out to a grandparent who is being challenged right now. Listen to the issues they are facing and voice a prayer for them.
3) Send a handwritten note or card to your grandchild and let them know they are a gift to you.
4) Refer another grandparent to the resources and free materials available at www.grandkidsmatter.org.
5) Start planning ahead for the holidays; make a list of simple but meaningful gifts you might get for each grandchild. Need some ideas? See what we have here.
Share your thoughts and experiences on our Facebook page: How have you stayed positive as a grandparent despite difficulties?