Want to instantly drop five points in the eyes of your children or their spouses/partners/co-parents? Just use this simple phrase for immediate results.
They may not stop asking you to babysit or attend family functions, but they will do it with gritted teeth. Nothing like a disparaging comparison between the imperfect world of competing demands that parents struggle through every day, and the all-sunshine-all-the-time vision that you remember so well. Oh, and did I mention the wise and immutable rules that governed your life as a young person?
Here are a few corollaries for you to excise if In my day is not your cup of tea. When I was growing up, in my family, when I was young, offer the same easy deification of a dead time.
Maybe you had a good upbringing, maybe not. But it happened at a very specific time, in a very specific environment. Use comparisons sparingly. In my day, we never ever laid it on too thick.
Sure, we know how much good we do for our grandchildren. But it’s nice to have a study from Brigham Young University that lays it all out. For fifth graders who had grandparents living near by, those who were close to them had improved social skills, like kindness and compassion, and were more engaged in school. Grandparents who helped their offspring financially, especially single parent families, were able to make a real difference in their grandchildren’s lives.
But what struck me was something that the study’s author said in explaining the results: “Grandparents are like the National Guard,” according to Jeremy Yorgason. “if there is a problem, they come in and help out.”
This makes intuitive sense. We have the special training, the experience, the tools. All we are lacking is the camo suits. We are activated in a state of emergency. We keep the peace and restore order. We represent central authority. And when it is over, we get to go home.
One thing I hadn’t anticipated about grandmotherhood was the continuation of the girl buddy system. We lend and borrow porta cribs when the kids come to visit. We commiserate about distance and closeness. We marvel at the mix of personalities, and track them through time. We trade tips about playgrounds, parks; easy ways to kill time in the house with little kids; how to stay close as the little ones grow big.
Some of these things we know from our motherhood days. Lots of them reside in our bones. Others, like cellphone videos, we could never have imagined; likewise having to defer to your children, who somehow have become the ones who must be obeyed, except when they are not looking.
What has remained constant is the easy friendship we share. Some of the actual people are the same ones I knew when my own kids were little. Others are newer friends. A couple are not even grandmothers. But if they are my age, and if they were mothers, they have the instincts at the ready.
The “What’s good to do?”; the “How can I ever….” the “Can you believe?” feel the same as when we were kids planning our own adventures for the afternoon.
This is bonus time, big time.