Home Age The Man Cave on…Grand-Fatherhood – Senior Planet from AARP

The Man Cave on…Grand-Fatherhood – Senior Planet from AARP

by Editor

About a year after my first grandchild was born, her mother (my daughter) said, “Wow, we thought mom would be over the moon, but your involvement with little Robin really surprised us.”  Oddly enough, my son had expressed a similar but more humorous observation just a month earlier:  “Dad’s off his rocker over Robin!”

What is it about becoming a grandfather that so moved me? I wonder if it’s the powerful connection of seeing your own children become parents combined with the precious gift of a grandchild.  Whatever it is, the feeling when I first laid eyes on Robin was one of overwhelming love with a fierce sense of wanting to protect her.

When Robin was born she was undersized even though the pregnancy was full term.  She was tiny, and her weight during her first three months was in the lowest bracket.  Part of the reason was her reflux and inability to keep most of the breast milk down, but then again kids come in all shapes and sizes and some are the smallest and some the biggest.

Robin and her family live in London, and I flew over when she was three months old.  Richmond Park was nearby and to give my daughter some rest I would take Robin on a long walk every day.

The baby carrier kept Robin snuggled against my chest and I felt I could impart some of my strength straight to her from the beating of my heart.  And as we walked beneath the craggy oaks of the park I’d talk to her and sometimes sing.  I had this not so crazy notion she was absorbing some of the positive energy.

With Robin so far away I took advantage of Zoom and Facebook video to talk with her and Kristin on a weekly basis.  It was almost as good as being with them in person, so if you haven’t tried video chatting with your grandkids these two methods are relatively easy – and I’m a low-tech guy!

Grandad Goals

Writing this column made me think about the type of grandparent I want to be.  Here are my top three goals:

  • Share my hobbies with Robin. And if she shows interest in one or two, guide her when she asks.
  • Be available. Not just to Robin but to her parents.  Assist when I can with the child care duties and when askedgive advice.  But mostly listen.
  • Whenever possible, help financially. My parents assisted me when my children were young, and their small “donation” meant the world to me and my wife as we juggled demanding jobs and parenting.

I often ask other grandfathers about their feelings, and my fishing buddy Mike W. had an answer that resonated with me. “Gratitude overwhelms me when I’m with my grandchildren. And I’m so grateful to have another chance to spend time with my adult children and their new families.  It’s a second chance to make up for mistakes I made when I was a father.”

Life with Grandfather

My life is changing in subtle ways as Robin and I “grow up.”  I’m more goofy, sending little video’s I make of myself to my daughter and son in law to play for Robin. And I find myself laughing more than ever, especially when I watch a video of Robin.  My own future as a senior seems brighter – and I think that is because Robin gives me yet another sense of purpose, another reason to live as healthy as possible.  On a global scale, seeing Robin grow makes me more concerned about the planet we are leaving future generations, and I do what I can to make a difference.

As grandparents we also need to know our boundaries.  We are not the parents. This article gives good advice. And be careful of spoiling the grandchild and inadvertently undermining the parents as all to often the case.

A familiar grandparent’s refrain says “It’s wonderful, and when we get tired we just give the grandkids back to their parents.”  But that doesn’t do the experience justice.  We don’t have such powerful love for these children because it’s easy, but rather because it’s pure magic – something so wondrous that the joy spreads in all directions.

YOUR TURN

What’s your best memory of fatherhood or grandfatherhood? Share your story in the comments!

The Man Cave on…Grand-Fatherhood – Senior Planet from AARP

Michael J. Tougias is a New York Times bestselling author and co-author of 30 books for adults and nine books for middle readers. His latest book is Extreme Survival: Lessons From Those Who Have Triumphed Against All Odds. Tougias speaks to both business groups and at public libraries across the country. www.michaeltougias.com

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