Today many parents are lucky to have their own parents playing active roles in the lives of their children. It’s a beautiful thing to see and such a blessing to every member of the family.
It can be easy to overlook the wisdom and experience from those who have made their way up the ranks to become grandparents. Long ago, elders were revered for their wisdom. In modern society, that sort of respect tends to be lacking.
I asked grandparents what advice they’d give to parents today. Here’s what they said.
Be a Parent, Not a Friend
“Your kids will have plenty of friends, but only one set of parents,” said grandmother Antoinette Kuritz of La Jolla, California. “Be a parent. Set boundaries, expect the best of them, help them reach their potential intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Teach them manners. Too many kids grow up with no sense of their freedom ending where someone else’s toes begin.”
Turn Down the Tech
“Set tech-free times for your family to encourage communication,” Kuritz advised. “And that means those times are tech-free for you, too.”
Don’t Get Too Busy
“Don’t over-schedule your kids,” said grandmother Carol Chamberlain of Sacramento, California. “Most will not get a college scholarship and you are missing out on family and creative time.”
“Don’t stress over the small stuff,” said grandmother Michelle Morton of Raleigh, North Carolina. “I think it is great to have routines and all that, but at the end of the day what matters is spending time together. It will not hurt anyone if you stay up past bedtime or if you eat on the floor in the living room or if you have ice cream for dinner.”
Savor This Time
“Enjoy your kids,” Kuritz said. “They grow up so very fast. Make the most of those parenting years.”
I also asked grandparents what they hope children today will grow up understanding. They offered the following insights.
Give of Yourself
“I want my grandchildren to know they are of value to themselves and to others,” Kuritz said, “and that there is incredible joy in giving and being of service.”
Cherish Your Family
Grandmother Maria Calautti of Ontario, Canada said, “I hope children of today grow up knowing the value of family, not just the immediate family but the extended family as well. I hope they grow up understanding and upholding family traditions, the new traditions they are creating [and] also the old traditions of the previous generations.”
Respect Your Elders
“Listen to older people like your grandmother,” said grandmother Vicki Woods of Butler, Tennessee. “They can be lots of fun and they certainly can answer a lot of questions about life and death.”
Trust Your Gut
“Trust your gut,” Woods added. “If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”
Know What’s Truly Important
“I hope they grow up understanding that it’s not all about money and entitlement. It’s about compassion, love, understanding, and humility.” Calautti said.
Finally, I asked grandparents what advice they wished they had heeded when they were parents.
Take It Easy
Kuritz wishes she had taken the time to relax more. “Looking back, the house and meals did not have to be quite so perfect. I played and interacted a lot with my kids, and I wish I had done even more,” she said.
Don’t Be So Strict
Morton wishes she had considered the advice “to not be so rigid as a parent and to let the reins go every once in a while.”
It Goes So Fast
“I wish I could have worked a little less to spend more time with the children,” Calautti said. “I was told that time goes by very fast. I just wish I knew at the time how very fast it really goes.”