Dear Grandparenting: When you hear people talk about how wonderful the grandparents are, it’s sort of understood they’re talking about the grandmother, not the grandfather. Obviously that’s because of the whole maternal instinct myth, as if men are unwilling or born incapable of ever being good caregivers.
Well, I’m here to bust that rumor wide-open. My wife does her thing with cooking and soothing and such, but I do most of the hands-on stuff, and I can’t get enough.
Each week I meet for lunch on Thursday with a bunch of guys I’ve known forever, since we grew up. All of us stay involved with our grandkids, so on Thursdays, we’ll wind up swapping stories about the grandkids. I like learning how they go about it.
So here’s to grandfathers! Grandmothers are grand but we’re not expendable either! How about a long overdue good word for the grandfather nation? Mort Jenkins, Boston, Massachusetts
Dear Mort: With all due respect, there’s some logic in supposing that grandmothers carry the weight. Since the dawn of civilization, the care and feeding of children was women’s work and men the presumed providers.
We’ve heard other myths about the grandparenting experience, starting with how it’s simply impossible to spend too much time with your grandkids. Others will swear that all grandparents spoil their grandchildren or try telling you that grandchildren automatically worship grandparents and hang on their every word. Any implication that grandfathers fail to measure up as caregivers doesn’t hold up either.
Some old lions won’t rise to change a diaper or chase after a grandchild upon pain of death, but grandfathers are actually in greater demand for such duties than ever. The average age of becoming a grandparent in America hovers around 50, well before most give retirement a thought. And with more mature women now in the workforce, grandmothers and grandfathers increasingly find they must share the demands of their jobs and families at large.
Grandfathers may play second fiddle around their infants and toddler grandchildren, only to become a force in their subsequent growth and development, say as their anchor, role model, confidant, mentor, fishing buddy or their very last best friend of the moment. Now who said expendable?
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Billie Jo Williams from Troy, Ohio, weighs in to report that her “grandchildren fill this place in my heart that I never knew was so empty to begin with.”
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.