Dear Grandparenting: We’re all getting into the New Year resolution business big time. Our two grandchildren have decided to make some changes, and we want to help. Also, for the first time in memory, my wife and I are making a few New Year resolutions of our own.
The grandchildren have made it crystal clear they will be hounding us to keep our promises. So grandparents and grandchildren alike will be keeping track of each other’s progress and probably keeping score about who’s doing the best job. Do you have any advice? I’ve heard that most people fail miserably. Bill Wilson, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Dear Bill: The ancient Romans began each year by making promises to their god Janus, for whom January is named. New Year resolutions continue around the world, but nowhere with the fervor of Americans. There’s a certain something in our national psyche — the booming self-improvement industry and enduring belief in personal responsibility — that makes us resolution diehards.
“God helps them that help themselves,” said founding father Ben Franklin, and it stuck. But most of us try and try again to succeed. Roughly 90 percent of all New Year resolutions fail, according to most informed estimates.
We like your little family plan. Grandparents should leap at such shared experiences. Blessed are grandchildren who develop habits of positive change and goal attainment, but personal change coaches say most people underestimate the commitment required to make personal change.
Researchers who study such things say resolutions that are attainable, concrete and specific work best. Instead of losing 20 pounds, try 10. The trick is sustaining one’s motivation. Setting heartfelt goals that come from within is a stronger motivator than goals set by others. Establishing new habits takes about one month of daily repetition. Researchers recently discovered that humans possess a finite reserve of willpower. Given those limits, don’t spread yourself too thin making multiple resolutions. One is about all anyone can handle.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Mary Lee from The Villages, Florida, admits she “never gave much thought” to the little sign that hung in her mother’s kitchen until she had grandchildren of her own.
“But I get it now,” says Mary, who has the same little sign hanging in her own kitchen. It reads, “Grandchildren are God’s reward for not killing your children.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.