In the twenty-first century, we must go beyond mere openness. We must embrace diversity and welcome the arrival of our grandchildren, whatever family structure they come from. In this article we will draw a portrait of our contemporary society and the important role grandparents can play. Who says only baby boomers believed in excitement, values and revolution? These words are often synonymous with youth.
But those who first wore bellbottoms and reinvented the world in their own way are now old. They are the grandparents of today and tomorrow! And now, like everything else, these baby boomers are reinventing the art of being grandparents. Indeed, the portrait of the modern family is complex and multifaceted: parent or blended families, interracial or intercultural marriages, marriages between same sex couples, adoptions, etc. Add to that new educational methods and new values. For the grandparents of today who want to find a place among those they love, the challenge is sometimes daunting.
One of the major changes the past 40 years is the fitness of the contemporary grandparents. 75 years ago, seniors were much less active than they are today. Now, not only are grandparents younger, but they have a physical capacity which is oddly attractive to toddlers. So, there is more variety in the shared activities between grandparent and the child! However, these grandparents are often still active in the work place and are ambitious too, which leaves them less available for their grandchildren. In this regard, the book is full of tips, advice and ideas to maximize family relationships while maintaining your full freedom.
Another notable change is the active presence of big-dads. Like fathers, grandfathers are more present and more involved than before. The old formula of an uncommunicative grandpa seems long gone. They are not necessarily psychologically close to their grandchildren, but they spend time and play a lot with them.
Indeed, men from the generation of baby boomers were the first to accept a redefinition of the role of women and men in society and family. The domino effect of the revolution has continued till today, and it is not our grandchildren who will complain.
We are surprised that the road has been traveled for 40 years. In the past, all grandparents were similar. Their roles were clearly defined. Today, everyone plays their part as they wish, hence the importance of the first great principle which suggests defining what kind of grandparent you want to be: To get there, what better than to ask our grandchildren how they want us to be?
Maybe you’ll feel more challenged by a second principle: offer parents support and respect or be open to novelty. “Everything is not for everyone. The great truth underlying all these principles is communication. Say clearly what you want or do not want. Of course, you must listen too. But be careful – do not necessarily say anything that comes to mind. Choose the right time and way of saying things.
We need to scrap comments like: “In my time, it was like that…” or “I raised four children and I think I know how!” In addition to being aggressive, these kinds of comments severe all forms of complicity. One of the golden rules to facilitate intergenerational exchange is to learn. It is not the parents who need to adjust to the grandparents, but the other way round.
So grandparents rise and shine! Learn, read and surf the Internet in order to understand the reality of being parents. Your knowledge will be an important asset to help your family and get involved in their lives. Spread the word – the modern family needs its grandparents for security, stability, and the opportunity to receive unconditional love and affection.