Dear Grandparenting: Looking back on it all, I guess I was not in a real big hurry to grow up. I was a flower child of the 1960s and the only person in my school that actually went to the Woodstock music festival. I wasn’t one of those free love girls but I liked the guys. I started having my children before I was ready. I never got high marks for housekeeping but I did keep a roof over my children’s heads.
Sometime around age 50 I started to take life more seriously. Family is all you really have in life. My children were grown and on their own by then. When my grandchildren started coming along, my own children acted like I wasn’t good enough. There were always reasons why it was inconvenient for me to come by to visit my grandchildren except on the holidays.
I do my best to let my grandchildren know I love them. I go shopping for them on the Internet and have everything shipped straight to their home. I have even started putting some money away for their education. I keep trying to show my children that I’ve changed. Maybe I was not exactly perfect as a mother but Lord knows I did try. Now I’m trying to make up for it, but still get a chilly reception. My grandchildren are going to forget what I look like. What do I do now? Lonely Lady, Piqua
Dear Lonely: There are different sides to this coin. Consider the increasing numbers of grandparents raising grandchildren. Sometimes that’s because of military deployment or economic setbacks, but in many cases it’s due to deadbeat parents who are missing in action, or in and out of addiction and incarceration.
On the flip side are grandparents like you whose parenting style resembled a system of benign neglect, parents more in name than deed. Their children remain resentful. To make amends, these grandparents shower their grandchildren with affection and gifts — the very things their children were deprived of growing up.
Instead of looking around for the welcome mat, grandparents should put themselves in their children’s shoes. Yes, your whole gang is happy that their mellowing granny is reformed and attentive to family. But what about those past deprivations your children suffered during their formative years? You can’t buy your way out of that. So what can you do? Give it time. And as you continue to work your way back into your family’s good graces, keep this in mind: Hands-on grandparenting is a privilege, not a birthright.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Stanley Johnson from Kingsport, Tennessee, was discussing the meaning of the Ten Commandments with his visiting grandchildren around the supper table.
Stanley thought it might be good idea to put words into action. “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” he asked to no one in particular.
“Thou shall not kill,” piped up granddaughter Abigail without missing a beat.
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.