A first-time grandmother shared with me “My life has been good enough. I work, have friends, adventures. Loving my grandchild is wonderful. Watching my child be a parent is icing on the cake of life.” BUT…
She shared that she is struggling with not being included for the fun but is for sure expected to help out. Helping out is expected from adult children. AND…
If the family is going on an outing, she said they don’t invite me and she feels that is a fun time The missing out stems in part from the grandparent not knowing how to communicate,” I do the dishes, bottles, nap time, toy clean up, cuddle, songs, stay late as needed, but I want to go out with my adult child, partner, and grandchild, like a stroll in the park. Not every time. Sometimes I just feel like I do the “Jobs” rather than the family fun outing where I am not on duty, the parents are. I want them to think about how it is for me too and not just for them. Ok that is unrealistic, or is it?”
In my prior career as a Speech Therapist, I was curious about what was and wasn’t being communicated. I re-invented and launched Empty Nest Support Services when there was no support and then Life in Transition when a woman sparked the idea by sharing with me, “I was in your Empty Nest workshop, and you need to open these teachings for all life transitions.”
How do we assess how we are communicating with ourselves and others? What is honest communication? How do we develop, step by step, those skills? What is my role today? How do I figure out what matters?
We know we change at different stages of our lives and at all of them, we want to be generous, and continue to live a meaningful life. I remember a young woman was sitting in the front row of my interactive presentation when she raised her hand and shared,” my family would all be living together now if someone had taught us how to say what we really wanted to say and not think it wouldn’t matter.”
Everyone has a different family dynamic and need. They communicate like mentioned before to someone they feel safe enough to say it to but are wanting to have that honest communication with their adult children who are now the parents. Well not the in law. Maybe just their adult child first. They don’t want resentment to build up. They don’t want to feel used.
Have any of you had those moments where you want to say something but not sure how or when for fear your adult children won’t let you see the grand kids? That you are being needy and unrealistic?
To some grandparents that might sound absurd, but to others it is real for them. They know who holds the cards. They know to check it out with the parent before doing something, like foods to give the grandchild. They know don’t give advice without being asked. But they aren’t sure what is ok to talk about and what is best left alone?
The new role of grandparent brings so much vitality, awe, gratefulness, and it also brings up how do I say what I am feeling or thinking if I am supposed to be in the back seat? I know I’m not the parent. I also have feelings and thoughts because I am still a person who wants to be respected and heard.
How has this confusion, doubt, about what to say and not say showed up for you as a grandparent?
I want us to have a safe support here to share our joys and challenges, as well as suggestions of gifts to give, things your grandchildren are enjoying playing with and of course the cuteness they say or do. We are building a community. So, stay tune for how we will be “SEEING” each other. Let me know what you need. I am here.
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Take care, Natalie
#grandparenting #parenting #adultchildren #life transitions #babies #familydynamics
Natalie Caine, M.A. firstname.lastname@example.org