The Welsh have this saying: “Perfect love does not come along until the first grandchild.”
Anyone who is a grandparent understands perfectly. When my first granddaughter, Eden Lillee, was born six years ago, I was unprepared for the instant connection I felt deep down in my soul when our eyes met for the first time.
Of course, we all know grandparenting is much more fun than parenting. After all, you have all the enjoyment without all the responsibility. But it’s so much more than that.
When my grandchildren spend the night and I know they are in the next bedroom sleeping curled up in little balls, a warm glow of satisfaction pervades my body. The next morning, I quietly sip my coffee and anticipate all the soft morning snuggles with blissful baby smells soon to come my way.
I must confess, as a young mother in my 20s, I remember feeling impatient and resentful of all the demands that parenting inevitably brings. At playgrounds, I’d restlessly stare at my watch, thinking I’d rather be anywhere else.
Now, I can sit quietly and patiently, watching my four-year-old grandson playing with his tractors or my two-year-old granddaughter blowing bubbles for hours. I never tire of listening to my six-year-old granddaughter reading me books as she discovers one of life’s pleasures. Instead of feeling impatient, I feel grateful for the reminder that life isn’t always about duties, deadlines, and schedules. In my 50s, I am grateful to see the world in a simple way through their young eyes again.
Studies link grandparenthood and life satisfaction, implying there is a long-run psychological benefit to the investment of raising children that skips a generation. I don’t need research to prove that fact. To be needed and wanted by these delightful creatures is a wonderful treat.
Grandchildren are the living manifestation of who we are and what we’ve accomplished. They represent the best of what we’ve successfully instilled in our children and an opportunity to build on that heritage. Like many people, I find that the rewards of family life only grow richer and more fulfilling as each new grandchild is born.
How can you enrich your life with your grandchildren and increase your happiness? Here are just a few ways:
- Be sure and spend time with them while they’re young. Invest the time now. Sure most of us still have lots of responsibilities, but take the time to change those dirty diapers and miss a few nights of sleep. Grandchildren who feel their grandparents played an important role in their lives while they were young tend to feel closer to them as they get older.
- Respect and get along with your own children. This isn’t the time to criticize parenting skills or go against your children’s wishes regarding family rules. We’re still working on trying not to spoil the grandkids – but we’re trying!
- Don’t make the mistake of having a “favorite” grandchild. All of your grandchildren have something unique to offer. Enjoy each of their little personalities with a profound appreciation for them as individuals.
- Stay healthy. Grandchildren can be a wonderful inspiration to stay active and eat right. You’ll be able to enjoy more activities with them and chase them around the house as necessary.
- Enjoy the simple things in life with your grandchildren. For example, take an evening stroll with them. Listen to the cicadas. Take binoculars and look for birds. Teach them names of plants and flowers. Savor the sunset. Imitate your children and learn to relish the small things in life.
What effect have your grandchildren had on your life?