Why I love “Old People”

Tallie's Great Grandparents and Great Aunt talking about all the amazing things this little baby can do.

Why I Love “Old People”

Dr. Robyn Silverman

We just went down to Florida to visit our 3 month old daughter, Tallie’s Great Grandparents (my husband’s grandparents– the ultimate team!). They’re 90 and 91 years old.  They’re married for 70 years.  They’re…amazing.

I always had a very close connection with my grandparents growing up. They lived in the next town over and we saw them often.  I have memories of my “Nanny” taking me to lunch, knitting me sweaters, and just spending time talking.  She said I was the sunshine of her life and I believed her.

When you get to be in your teens, you think the “old people” are so old that they’re out of touch.  As you get older, you find out that they’re more “in touch” with the ways of the world than you are.  They call it like they see it.  They say exactly what’s on their minds.  They don’t care about “standing on ceremony” (as our grandmother says) or worrying that someone won’t include them or will think badly of them.

I think it rubs off.  When I’m around our Florida Grandparents (and Great Aunts, cousins…etc!), I’m not nervous about hurting someone’s feelings.  I speak my mind and they appreciate it.  We have candid conversations and we don’t look for “hidden meanings” or wonder if we meant what we said.  We also have emotional conversations–conversations about gratitude and love and life.  We tell stories and share insights. We say the things most people wait to say until the person has left the earth. We tell each other why we are so appreciative. We laugh. We hug. It’s stripped down and open. It feels like it should be.

They marveled over every little thing Tallie did.  Every sound, every smile.  They remind us that the simple things should be coveted because time goes fast and, while life is amazing, if you don’t pay attention, you can miss out on the best moments.

But I think the most important thing about visiting grandparents is the relationships that can form between a child and these incredible seniors.  Nobody can teach a child about nurturing, longevity, patience, forgiveness, and lifetime love like Grandparents. In our fast paced world many of us can’t stand to be in a room with the same person for more than 20 minutes—yet they’re spending everyday of 70 years with one another (and “not long enough,” as “Ma” says).  Being with them reveals how it can work.

They’ve already gone “through it all” and they are not loving for what they get in return or trying to compete to get noticed.  They give and share and make us laugh out loud with stories we’ve heard a thousand times.  These are the stories I try to hold in my memory because one day they will be gone. For my daughter’s sake, I must remember.  Who am I kidding? For my sake, I must remember.

It’s amazing what can happen when you open your eyes and your heart to the possibility of a deep understanding between you and a grandparent.  They may not even be yours by blood—but they love you like you are…and you can’t help but love them like you’ve known them for a lifetime.

When we were leaving Florida yesterday, “Ma” and “Pa” told us how much we had done for them by coming down to see them and bringing our beautiful baby with us to steal their hearts.  I’m grateful.  Anything Tallie gets from them is a blessing.

Just a note- and of course this is a personal decision, but if you have been holding a grudge or have been disconnected with your child’s grandparents, perhaps it’s time to bury the hatchet or reconnect.  I wouldn’t say to do it if my family hadn’t experienced a reunification of some sort at one time or another.  It’s worth it.  When we let the past continue to govern the future, we miss out on what can be. And what can be…can be wonderful.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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A “Grand” Vacation: Can Children Travel with their Grandparents?

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Vacationing with Grandpa and Grandma

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Need a vacation after your vacation with your kids? Perhaps you should take your next vacation at home!

One of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry is called “grandtravel,” meaning, vacations your children take with their grandparents.

As a Child Development Specialist, I am a huge fan of quality time with the grandparents. Research has shown that infants whose grandparents had great family contact earn higher social development scores than those infants who did not have a lot of contact with grandparents. Research also suggests that children feel a unique sense of acceptance in their relationships with grandparents, which benefits them both emotionally and mentally. Grandparents can be a great support during familial disruptions and help to keep routines going. They can also be role models, mentors, historians, supporters, and voices of reason.

Yes, we are talking a lot about self reliance this month—but we don’t have to do it all ourselves all the time! Parents can get so used to relying on themselves, that grandtravel might not be in the forefront of their minds. But the news is showing that the roles of grandparents are changing due to parental age, divorce, and second marriages. So perhaps we can say that capturing intergenerational time is more important than ever.

Grandtravel allows grandparents and grandchildren can gain some quality time together while getting to know each other better outside of time spent with parent. They can also build wonderful memories—memories that are important to build while children and grandparents are young since grandparents may not always be around or able to enjoy special get-a-ways. And of course, parents are able to relax and reconnect while knowing that their children are having fun with people who they know and trust.

Already packing your children’s bags? Here are some tips:

(1) Pick a place where everyone will be happy: Cruises are very popular for grandtravel because they supply everyone with things to do and places to relax. Look for vacations that have activities everyone can do together as well as activities that are just for kids which allow grandparents to take a much needed break and recharge. Here are some other”grand” ideas.

(2) Know the children’s abilities and interests: Can the children swim well? Do they like to explore? Bike? Get on rollercoasters? Factoring in this information will lead to everyone’s happiness.

(3) Let the adults talk it out: Grandparents should talk to their kids first before getting the grandkids all excited about a trip that hasn’t yet been approved. By the same token, parents should talk to their kids about the idea of taking a trip without their parents to gage their readiness.

(4) Have a trial vacation: Don’t make a long vacation be the first time your child spends an overnight with grandma and grandpa. Plan a sleep over or a special weekend with the grandparents and see how the kids do.

(5) Talk out the rules: While grandma and grandpa are typically more lenient that parents, some rules need to stick. Which ones are really important? On the other hand, parents will need to relinquish some control and put their faith in the people who did a pretty good job raising you. Sometimes pancakes for dinner has got to be OK.

In the end, it’s about fun, making memories, and nurturing relationships. We have such a short window to enjoy children when they’re young and grandparents before they’d rather not travel at all. If you have the opportunity, why not give it a try?

Happy Vacationing!

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