By Yvonne Sam
Today, there are more grandparents than ever before, as people are living longer. Nevertheless, in the main, the art of grand-parenting has been lost.
With the continuing breakdown of families, comes the changing role of a grandparent. Innumerable numbers of grandparents rarely see their grandchildren; while innumerable others have grandchildren living with them, and are their primary caregivers.
Does anyone realize the weight of responsibility?
Some of the most important people in the family are grandparents. The importance of grandparents is perhaps best expressed in Proverbs 17:6: “Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers”.
Strangely enough, training for grandparenthood begins in childhood. As children we learn how to be grandparents from our grandparents. Grandparents are indeed role models for future grandparents.
Parents, although knowingly it is not always easy, please make time for your children to spend time with their grandparents. Teach the children to respect their grandparents. The connection is vital for future generations.
Young people need to be encouraged to seek grandparents’ company, and experience even advice. It is a wise young person who takes advantage of his grandparents’ knowledge.
Grandparents, you bring a wealth of wonderful resources for your grandchild/grandchildren to enjoy. The most important and most valuable asset is your experience. Life is replete with so many lessons.
A wise person it is, who will learn from the experiences of others rather than make all the mistakes himself. Actually these lessons need not be ones of amassing wealth or making business investments. They can be some of life’s simple, yet often overlooked, lessons.
In sharing yourself you are giving your grandchildren your unique outlook on life, your ways, your memories, your skills and interest and, most of all, your love. As the grandchild grows and develops wider knowledge, this will become more and more significant.
There is an old African proverb that says, “when an elderly person dies, a library burns down”. A grandparent is a bridge to another era. Family histories can be relived in stories from Granddad and Grandma – stories from the good old days.
It is not always possible, especially in our complex modern world, but one blessing that grandparents can provide is the building of an inheritance to pass along, not only to their children, but their grandchildren as well.
Adults, who have had a good relationship with their grandparents, display an elevated self-respect, a greater chance of success in life, and a strong sense of family values. Children are natural observers and they learn powerful, lasting lessons from watching and listening to a grandparent, who goes through life with dignity and selflessness, and who provides a strong sense of family. This relationship with your children and grandchildren is with those who will be the leaders of the next generation.
For many, as seniors we represent grandparents they may not have, due to other circumstances. Our examples within our physical and spiritual families will impact the minds of children who will be the grandparents of tomorrow.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is Vice-president of the Guyana Cultural Association of Montreal. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.