The blessing of grandparents

Why grandparents are important and why parents don’t need to be jealous of that relationship

Science tells us that grandparents being involved in the life of their grandkids is good not only for the children but also for the grandparents themselves. For example, a study released in June of 2016 from Boston College found that the rates of depression were less for grandparents AND grandchildren who had close relationships.

I grew up with three loving and devoted grandparents who lived nearby. While my paternal grandpa died a month after I was born, my other three grandparents were a big part of my life. They lived just two houses apart from each other and were within five minutes of our house. I was blessed to grow up with all three of them. My first grandparent loss didn’t happen until the beginning of my sophomore year in college. My last grandparent loss was two years ago. I miss them all so very much.

But my experience with grandparents is not over. Now I get to see my parents and my in-laws as grandparents. We have chosen to remain in the same city with both sets of grandparents even though it means that my husband has to drive a ways when he needs to go into the office.

On any given day, my children would have a 95 percent chance of choosing to be with my parents or in-laws over my husband and me! And I’m OK with that. (They don’t get to stay with them infinitely, but they do get to see their grandparents usually at least once a week during the school year and often more during the summer.)

I’ve learned that I will always be their mom. Nothing can ever change that or the love I have for them. Our relationship is our own and has nothing to do with their relationship with their grandparents. I was close with all of my grandparents and loved them fiercely, but my mom and dad were still my mom and dad. Loving my grandparents didn’t mean I had less love for my parents. I just had all that much more love, and the same is true for my kiddos.

I am so very thankful that my children have grandparents who are investing in them. My husband and I were married for 10 years before we had children. As a result, all of our parents were retired by the time we started a family. And our parents were head-over-heels from day one.

They are all a huge part of our kids’ lives. They show up for school performances and birthday parties. They love having the kids over to spend the night. They love spoiling the kids and buying toys they don’t need and offering extra sweets. These people are not the same people who raised my husband and me — and I love that!

I could be jealous of their relationship. I could resent the time my children spend with their grandparents. I’ve had a few times where my kids experienced something for the first time with their grandparents instead of with my husband and me. Honestly, it smarted a time or two. However, long ago I learned to just be thankful. I’m glad that my parents and in-laws get a chance to experience some firsts with our kids, too. Because in the end, all they have in mind is our kids’ happiness.

As their mom, I love my children so completely and so fully. I would willingly lay down my life for them. I do my best to meet all of their needs and look out for their best interests. Aside from my husband and me, our parents are the people who most love our children and would do whatever the kids need, no matter what.

That’s a tremendous blessing. The relationship between a grandchild and grandparent is a precious one. I learned that as a grandchild. I see that now as a mom. One of these days in the future, I may learn that as a grandparent as well. I have been well taught what makes a good grandparent through all of my experiences. I’m thankful to be able to pass those lessons along to my children as they grow up close to their grandparents.

What I love about relationships between grandparents and grandchildren is that they are unique. Grandparents love their grandkids just as much as their parents do, but they have a different perspective and a different purpose. While my husband and I are tasked with the job of raising our kids to be good people and discipline and do the nitty gritty work, our parents have the freedom to just love on them and have fun with them. Of course the kids love that and need that!

Grandparents are different in that they are able to just be present with their grandkids. Of course they have chores and tasks to be done, but many times those can wait until after the grandkids have gone home. I don’t get that luxury as often because in the midst of spending time with my kids, I also have to make sure our household is running smoothly and they have lunches packed, homework done, clothes washed, baths taken and on the list goes!

Grandparents are also different in that they have more patience. Nobody has raised kids and not understood how much patience it takes. It starts right from the beginning when they depend on you for every single thing, every single moment. I’m not sure it ever stops. While my husband and I can run short on patience in the midst of family life, our parents seldom do. They have patience in abundance for their grandchildren, which is something my kids thrive on.

Grandparents get to show up and cheer their grandkids on with pride. Parents totally do this, too. I enjoy going to the kids’ school programs and such. But while I can get busy and even stressed with the logistics of it all, my parents and in-laws show up with big smiles and are happy to cheer on our kids and brag about them whenever they get a chance. What kid doesn’t love that?!

Grandparents get to be the fun ones. I have seen both my parents and in-laws stop what they were doing and just play with our kids in ways I don’t even think they did with us. They have more freedom to be fun and have fun with the kids, which is a huge blessing for my children.

Finally, grandparents also get to be an example to their grandkids. We are blessed that both my parents and my husband’s parents are incredibly great example for our children. They all live Godly lives and model love, grace and faith to our children. I was blessed to have the examples of my own grandparents. All of that pours into my children. My children have a legacy of love and faith behind them, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

Raising children is a lot of responsibility and a lot of pressure. Keeping them safe is more challenging than ever before. Keeping them connected with the real world and grounded in faith can be a struggle. Having people come alongside my husband and me as we raise our children is a blessing beyond words. I will never be jealous of the relationship my kids have with any of their grandparents. I will just be grateful that they have so many good adults willing to love them and invest in them and help us as we raise them.

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