I Don’t Want To Be Called Grandma
This is a comment that I hear often. “I don’t want to be called Grandma. It makes me feel old.”
Why is this? Based on my years of work with AgeEsteem with people in multiple countries, I am convinced that it is because our own image of what a grandparent represents has not evolved. We still hold a picture in our minds of our own grandparents as they were two generations ago.
We need to up date our own thinking!
When our first granddaughter was expected, people asked me, “What do you want her to call you?” My answer was that I was unsure. – Perhaps Grandma Bonnie, perhaps just Grandma. I thought that it would be clear to me once she was born. However, when Jessica entered the world I was still uncertain, though I referred to myself as Grandma.
Jessica took the situation into her own hands when she began to speak. She was probably trying to copy her parents and call me Bonnie, but it came out as “Baline”. She is now four and the name has been confirmed by her younger sister, Viviane. Baline I am and Baline I will remain.
I lovingly say that Baline is a cross between a “baleine” which is the French word for whale and a “ballerine”, French for ballerina! It fits me well.
No matter what name or title is used, I am proud to be a grandmother! I delight in my special relationship as grandmother to these two little girls. Being Grandma is precious to me!
Bonnie Fatio (2011)
Children Cherish “Grandparents”
When I posted the above photo of me with my great-nephews on the AgeEsteem website, I received so many positive comments that I know there are multitudes of you who feel like I do. Children are one of the joys of life.
Children also cherish contact with older people. It is natural for them to gravitate towards us. It is as though they realize that we offer an additional dimension to living. Certainly we are different from their parents in multiple ways, including having time to listen to them.
I listened to a radio interviewer question children of diverse ages on how they would describe their grandparents or whoever they relate to in that way. One of the strongest common characteristics was that a grandparent was someone who listened. Really listened. It was a person who took time to show interest in them by listening to them actively without overt judgement.
What a powerful role this is! Imagine the importance of having someone listen to you without judgement. It means that you are able to truly share your thoughts and to sort out your own thinking by speaking these thoughts and sharing them with another person who you trust.
A Grandparent’s Influence
How did your grandparents influence your life? With these blog messages I would like to include special memories from you of how a grandparent has influenced your life. It will provide an opportunity to share role models and to learn some of the “tricks of the trade” from others.
When I was attending Michigan State University, I would sometimes visit my paternal grandparents who lived in nearby Holt. They always impressed me with their knowledge of current events. They even knew how many points my present boyfriend, who was a basketball star, had scored in the most recent game. I misunderstood this interest to mean that they would like to meet him and suggested bringing him to the house.
I will never forget my grandmother’s words. “Bonnie, if this is the man that you are going to respect and trust, and who you will be proud to call the father of your children, then we would like to meet him.”
I did not introduce him. The only young man I did introduce to them is the man I married, my husband of 51 years who our daughter and son-in-law are proud to have as the grandfather of their children.
Grandma’s words still ring in my mind as I thank her for the wisdom.
Do you have an example of how one of your grandparents influenced your life through simple words? – Words that you heard because the person had listened to you and responded with wisdom in a non-judgemental way? I would love to receive these stories and to be able to share many of them via this blog.
Grandparents Play Important Roles
Grandparents play an important role in the lives of children around the globe.
In many countries around the world grandparents are taking on a greater role in the care of their grandchildren. An increasing number of grandparents in the United States and in Europe have taken on the role of surrogate parents to their grandchildren for multiple reasons, including the larger number of single parent households.
In sub-Saharan Africa the care of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS is often taken on by grandparents as many of the generation in between has been wiped out by the disease. Without grandparents, for many children there would be no family.
Grandparents are also being brought into schools as volunteers to tutor students. An example of this is Experience Corps which has volunteers in 12 cities in the U.S. The average age of a volunteer is 65 and most of them volunteer between 10 and 15 hours a week. Among the extra benefits is the greater self-confidence children gain as a result of this loving attention.
Research at the University of Oxford, UK, by Professor Ann Buchanan shows a strong correlation between grandparental involvement and the increased the well being of children, particularly adolescences. Children with a high level of grandparental involvement had fewer emotional and behavioral problems.
Yes, as grandparents we have an important role to play in the lives of children, both our own grandchildren and other children.
…And All Who Love Children
How many times had I voiced the opinion that Grandparents greatly exaggerated their descriptions of their grandchildren? No child could be so cute or so intelligent or so clever as the one they describe.
Well, I began to eat those words nine years ago. Certainly I became more sympathetic towards those wonderful people. You see, I was also about to join that exclusive club of grandparenting. At the time friends must have been saying, “If she is like this before the child is born, what will she be like later when the baby is here?” Actually, I asked myself the same question as I chatted about the grandchild to be.
Knowing what a low tolerance level I had towards doting grandparents before knowing that I would be one, I have decided to make up for it and write a daily blog during this month of Grandparents Day. It is for Age-Esteemers who are grandparents and those who love being surrogate grandparents. Many of the blogs were written when our first grandchild was born. I will publish them as written at the time.
“This is a youth-oriented society, and the joke is on them because youth is a disease from which we all recover.” – Dorothy Fulheim
On A Summer Day
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.” – John Lubbock
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman
“Develop interest in life as you see it: in people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich simply throbbing with treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” – Henry Miller
Make Your Heart Sing
“We should do something that will make your heart dance once a day. If you can’t do that because you’re too depressed, then do something that will make somebody else’s heart dance.” – Yoko Ono