“The Family Circus” (by Bil Keane) recently had a great cartoon with a big sister telling her little brother, “When you and I have kids, mom and dad will be promoted to grandparents.”
Oh yeah, and that’s a great promotion – and one that should never be taken for granted.
It reminded me of the book I’m reading right now, The Conscious Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children (Broadleaf Books, 2022), written by the duo Shirley Showalter and Marilyn McEntyre. Shirley lived in our town (Harrisonburg, VA) for a number of years (along with attending college here where she met her husband Stuart – same spelling as my husband’s name). Shirley is an award-winning educator, author, speaker, and grandmother, who previously served as president of Goshen College in Indiana, where I grew up. Marilyn lives on the West Coast and is also an award-winning spiritual writer, speaker and teacher. Together they have a total of 12 grandchildren.
After my husband and I hosted our first “Cousin Camp” three years ago and wrote about our adventures in my column/blog, Shirley invited me over to her house for tea and a chat grandparents art. She was considering writing a book about such things. I enjoyed our conversation and the sharing of stories and experiences – but at the time I was writing a working dissertation and told him I needed to focus on that. (Which you will know more about in a few weeks!)
Krista Tippett, radio host of the NPR show and podcast “On Being” exclaimed The conscious grandparent“A book I didn’t know I was waiting for. A gift to our world. This endorsement caught my attention.
The authors proclaim that “loving our children’s children well is an art – an art that we continue to learn as they grow up”. I can see how true that is. My relationship with our eight-year-old grandsons is very different now than seven or eight years ago. Baby’s first days are so sweet and fun, but the middle years of their childhood provide opportunities to see the world in a new way – with them.
Marilyn and Shirley’s book kicks off the grandparents’ journey by first covering pregnancy, labor, and birth (and how involved are grandparents if invited?); how to decide on a name for your new role that suits you and that the little ones can say; how to include meaningful rituals in baby showers; serve as “big nanny”, which Shirley did for a year in New York; discover the world through games, books, art and nature; explore feelings and difficult times with a death in the family or when a child has special needs. In total, the book covers 52 different themes and challenges of grandparenting: many more topics that I would never have thought of unless I had diligently sat down to think about the angles available for such a book.
The authors conclude each chapter with a list of suggested resources if you want to find more help or information on a given topic. These informative tips and ideas are a great addition to this easy to read book.
I especially like the chapter called “Simple Gifts” where Marilyn delves into how to give gifts to our great loved ones in a culture where “companies are targeting the ‘2 year old market’ and small children ask for iPads, video games, and things that squeak and rattle and provide instant feedback.Marilyn reports that grandkids can learn to look forward experiences with the grandparents, rather than being given more “stuff” to sit on a shelf to languish in the toy room.
I had to think about the call to share experiences together as we recently spent time with our five grandsons. Next week I will share our experiences with our second cousins camp with all five grandsons held at the end of June. In the meantime, check out The conscious grandparent (ask in bookstores or on Amazon) to put it on your own must-read list!
You can write to me at [email protected] or Another Way Media, PO Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.
Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are published on FindingHarmonyBlog.com one week after publication in the newspaper.