I WAS THERE when my first grandchild was born. My daughter-in-law had chosen to have her baby at home with a midwife. I’d also had mine with a midwife’s assistance, and I was delighted to be invited to lend a helping hand.
After a long labor, my granddaughter finally emerged into the world. Her mother was so exhausted, she wasn’t ready to take her baby into her arms, and my son was busy tending to his wife. And so it was that I was the first to nestle my granddaughter into the crook of my arm and gaze into her eyes, pupils open so wide they were black and fathomless as the night sky. In that moment, we imprinted upon each other, making a connection that continues to keep us close.
I was 44 — too young to be called “grandma,” I thought, and so I became “Nana.” Here is what I subsequently discovered: after raising children, grandchildren are a delightful surprise. All the fun of being a parent without any of the angst (unless, of course, you end up raising your grandchildren, and we’ll get to that in the prompts below).
The nature of the grandparent-grandchild relationship is influenced by many factors: physical proximity, frequency of contact, whether the parents are still married or divorced, and the expected role and function of the grandparent within the family to name a few.
I have been fortunate to have good relationships with my children and their spouses and to be invited into my grandchildren’s lives. I have been unfortunate in that my children have all moved, by reason of career or divorce or other circumstance, too far away to allow regular real-time contact between my grandchildren and me. This distance has prevented me from being the close kind of grandmother I wanted to be.
The following journaling prompts will help you define and explore the nature of your relationships with your grandchildren, the opportunities and obstacles you’ve experienced, and your thoughts and emotions about your role in the family.
Journaling Prompts for Grandparents
- How old were you when you became a grandparent and how did your age affect how you perceived yourself in that role?
- How involved are you in your grandchildren’s lives and what factors have influenced your involvement?
- If you have more than one grandchild, do you have favorites among them? How do your preferences affect your relationships with them?
- Are you raising or have you raised grandchildren? If so, has this affected your relationships with them? If not, how do you imagine that raising your grandchildren would have changed your interactions with them?
- What is the best part of being a grandparent?
- What is the worst part?
- If you could do anything differently, in terms of your relationships with your grandchildren, what would that be?
- What can you begin doing today to build better relationships with your grandchildren?
There’s no doubt that grandparents can be strong positive influences on children, that being a grandparent can be one of life’s most satisfying family roles, and there are as many variations of grandparenting as there are parenting.