They say that grandparents enjoy their grandchildren more than they did their own children – and that is because the engagement is all about fun and real relationship value – and it’s not a 24/7 responsibility. When granny’s tired, she can go home.
While grandparents are so important in a child’s life for stability and a deep, comforting sense of nurturing, grandmothers hold a special bond that embraces all the warmth of motherhood with the indulgence and patience of older, wiser years – and a honed understanding of grandchildren that is often more perceptive than granddad’s or busy parents. Whatever kids are up to, you can bet your bottom dollar that grandma will sniff it out quicker than anyone else.
Grandmothers are master builders of both limits and lenience. They know the rules. They’ve been there and done it all – and sometimes they might think it was not that long ago. But now they have the time to give their grandchildren much of the lessons of love and engagement that they may not have had time for all those years ago with their own children.
The value a grandmother gives a child
Love and warmth: A grandmother is invariably seen as a source of unconditional love, a refuge when the world turns nasty – someone who will always be kind, strong, steady and forgiving.
Family foundation: She is often the glue that keeps a family together – and a vital link where single parents are concerned, providing support to the working parent generation as well as wise council on problems of both younger generations.
Inspiration: Grandmothers inspire because they always believe in you. In your gran’s eyes you are a miracle of life, an extension of her existence and an affirmation that her stamp on life will continue after her death. Her high expectations of you are unconditional – she just always thinks you will be successful no matter what you do. This steadfast, reliable vote of confidence is extraordinarily motivating. Pleasing grandma is sometimes more important than pleasing parents who are sometimes too demanding. For her, you will always do your best.
Values: Without you even realising it, your grandma will have subtly passed on her values to you. Eventually these values become embedded on your own value system. Respect for hard work. Learning to understand others’ feelings and applying fair judgement. Courage in the face of adversity. Living life with integrity and scruples. Understanding the importance of sacrifice for others and the support of others.
Encouragement and perseverance: Watch and listen. A grandmother will never say you can’t or shouldn’t do something that you plan. A grandmother will always encourage you to follow your dreams for two important reasons: either she never got to follow her dreams and so understands the feeling of missed opportunities; or she did follow her goals and understands the power of a fulfilled life. Either way, she will always be the one who tells you to never give up.
Relationships and loyalty: One thing older people have usually learned, is how to handle other people. Your grandmother more than any other, will have lived through changing times and many more relationships than you – and her experience in interpersonal interactions is invaluable. Empathy, patience, the art of persuasion – gran has the lot! And all usually threaded with a gentle sense of humour! The one thing above all she will have learnt about relationships will invariably have come from her own marriage built on loyalty, tenacity and a true sense of duty. She will have friends that have travelled a lifetime with her, and her loyalty will be steadfast and true. The map of her relationships throughout her life, is usually a good one to study and likewise follow.
Independence and responsibility: Your grandmother is the person least likely to tie you to her apron strings. On the contrary, she wants to see you fly! She can’t wait for you to qualify, work, travel, and live your dreams. To see you as a contributing, upright, independent citizen makes her fit to burst with pride. All those lessons she quietly taught you in your childhood, all the stories, the firm application of rules without threat, have instilled a sense of responsibility in your attitude and behaviour. Gran’s high standards have always, at every encounter throughout your relationship, rubbed off on you. In the shadows behind your parents, there stands the real motivator: the person who saw the best in you, expected the best in you – and guided you with more love and less censure than anyone else.
The surrogate grandmother
There are many elderly people who don’t have grandchildren for one reason or another – and also many children without grandparents. It’s good to find a match between these two situations where possible. A surrogate grandmother can offer genuine interest, support, a shoulder to cry on and a rousing cheer for every success. There is mutual benefit in these arrangements that may give a lonely elderly person reconnection to life – and a young person the kind of relationship that offers stability, friendship and the valued experience of unconditional love.
Grandmothers teach us to respect the elderly – their life experience and the value of it, their wisdom and gentle empathy. Grandmothers want only the best for you. You are the light of their existence, their hopeful confirmation of a life lived to the best a life can be. You are the meaning of her life – the sense of the continuity of life – and love brings all the meaning and goals of a fulfilled life to yours. Her imprint on you is memorable and indelible and will guide the way you handle your life, your children and your grandchildren.
The Helderberg Society for the Aged
The Helderberg Society for the Aged provides a variety of secure lifestyle options for elderly people in an environment of compassion and care. We understand the long road many older people have travelled and we respect their journey and their wisdom and nurture that value at every turn. We work to widen the circle of happiness among the people we care for by working to instill a strong sense of appreciation for the value they have brought to others and to society as a whole. Our services encompass Independent Living, Assisted Living, Home-based Care and Frail Care.
Find out more about us: www.hsfa.org.za
Note from editor: The Grandmother in the picture is Pat le Roux, one of the most inspiring ladies who lived at our facilities, but passed away a few years ago after a battle with cancer. We salute her and so many more!
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