“A father is the one friend upon whom you can always rely on,” are the wise words of Emile Gaboriau.
As a young father, I thought that when the children left home, I could retire from the occupation of fatherhood.
How wrong I was. Once a father, always a father.
It is just that your fathering role changes from being hands-on and quite directive to more of a mixture of a coaching and consultant role.
The bottom line is that while you are on the planet, you don’t retire from the role of being a father to your children. You are always wanted, and always needed.
When your children have their own children, you get a promotion and join the elite group known as grandfathers. This elevation provides you with a whole new set of responsibilities, opportunities and joys.
So far, we have ten grandchildren, ranging in age from 15 years to 2 months old, and yes, we still have our L plates on. The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.
Alvin Poussaint put it beautifully:
“Grandfathers do have a special place in the lives of their children’s children. They can delight and play with them and even indulge them in ways that they did not indulge their own children.”
“Grandfather knows that after the fun and games are over with his adorable grandchildren, he can return to the quiet of his own home and peacefully reflect on this phenomenon of fatherhood.”
Having said that, there are a lot of studies that show that grandfathers, and more broadly grandparents, can have a very beneficial impact on their grandchildren and on the happiness and wellbeing of the entire family.
This article excerpt from the Wilmington Parent is called, “Five Reasons Why Grandparents Are So Important”.
Grandparents truly impact their grandchildren’s lives.
Studies show that as many as 9 out of 10 adult grandchildren feel that their grandparents influenced their beliefs and values. A child’s perspective of what constitutes a healthy, normal relationship is shaped by the relationship that he or she holds with a grandparent. Through regular contact, a sense of emotional intimacy, and unwavering support, children can experience what a true, positive relationship should look like.
Grandparents can greatly reduce household stress.
A 2014 study at Boston College found that “an emotionally close relationship between grandparent and grandchild is associated with fewer symptoms of depression for both generations.” For kids, having grandparents around means having the perfect companions to play with and have fun. Grandparents are some of the best partners when it comes to using creativity and imagination to discover the wonders of life. And in turn, most grandparents truly love their role. According to the American Grandparents Association, 72% of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.
Grandparents have a great amount of experience.
Grandparents are a valuable resource because they have so many stories and experiences from their own lives to share. Oftentimes children will listen to grandparents even when they are not listening to their parents or other adults. Grandparents also offer a link to a child’s cultural heritage and family history. Children understand more of who they are and where they come from through their connection with their grandparents.
Grandparents provide a sense of security.
Especially during tough times, having an extra layer of support can make a big difference in a child’s life. Studies have shown that close grandparent-grandchild relationships during the teenage years are associated with less behavioural and emotional problems and fewer social difficulties with peers. Grandparents offer an extra ear when kids need someone to talk to, because sometimes children just find it easier to open up and share their difficulties and problems with their grandparents.
Grandparents offer an affordable childcare option.
With both parents in many families working outside of the home, it is oftentimes the grandparents that play a vital role in raising today’s youth. According to the 2010 Census in the USA, roughly 2.7 million grandparents provide for the basic needs of a grandchild, while even more take care of their grandchildren on a regular basis. If they are willing and able, having a grandparent act as either an occasional babysitter or a paid childcare provider gives many parents a great sense of comfort knowing that they are leaving their children in capable and caring hands.
For many years, when our children were young, we did not have the direct support of their grandparents. Thankfully, through our church connections, an older missionary couple took us, and our children, under their wings.
They became surrogate grandparents to our children. Wonderful child-minders and inspiring role models for my wife and me. Their children were 8-10 years older than our children so they too were wonderful role models for our children as well.
If you don’t have access to your parents for whatever reason, I encourage you to seek out such surrogate grandparents. You will be forever glad of your decision. A trouble shared is a trouble halved and many hands make light work.
Appreciate your own father and mother as grandparents to your children, and do what you can to facilitate their involvement in your children’s lives.
While we are on that subject, make sure you tell your children’s grandparents about the National Grandparents Conference. This groundbreaking one-of-a-kind conference is on in Wollongong next weekend, Saturday, 16 September 2023. They also have online attendance options. Book early to avoid disappointment.
Yours for Our Children’s Children,
Photo by Alena Darmel.