The road to becoming a grandparent is not always an easy one. First you must become a parent and raise your own brood. Although there are numerous books and free advice, there are no hard and fast rules for raising children. You learn as you go along. By the time the third or fourth one comes along things get a little easier. But about the time you get the hang of it, the kids are grown and gone on to raise a family of their own.
For awhile you and your spouse enjoy the "empty nest". But the news that a grandchild is on the way creates a whole new scenario. Now maybe if you play your cards right you may get another chance to help raise some more children. Maybe you will, but you had better learn the rules and regulations. They have changed --- they are not the same as last time!
The first thing that you will probably learn is that these new parents have their own ideas about how to raise children. You may wonder how in the world they could possibly know how to do the right things in raising these precious little bundles. But they do, and usually they do it right. Even if you know they are making a mistake, you had better learn real quick to keep your mouth shut and not interfere, unless you are asked. You may be absolutely positive that baby is crying because he is hungry --- you know a hungry cry when you hear one --- but you'd better not tell your daughter, unless you are asked. Perhaps the worst possible thing you can do is to tell daughter what you did for her when she cried like that. If you want a chance to hold little Johnny and feed him a bottle, just keep your mouth shut and play by the new parents' rules.
It is when the grandchildren get old enough to play with that they become a joy. They have their own way of seeing things. One little fellow described his grandparents this way: "Grandparents are people who don't have any small children of their own. They like other people's little boys and girls. Grandfathers are man-grandmothers. He takes me fishing and stuff. He doesn't play very hard or run very fast. He never says `hurry' and he walks kinda slow." Then he described a grandmother. "Grandmothers have a nice soft lap to cuddle in and she reads stories when I ask her to. Sometimes grandmothers take out their teeth and grandfathers take off their ears. That's okay because I love them anyway."
If you are around grandchildren enough, you will find they go through the same phases your own children did. Now, as a grandparent, you can usually find more time to spend with them and to try to answer their questions like "Grandpa, who is God's wife?" or "Why do dogs like to chase cats?" You now have time to tell them stories that begin with "When I was a little boy/girl..." If you can get them away from the TV long enough to tell them family stories, I think you will be surprised how quickly they will relate to you and your world. Such stories will weld a link from your past to them and if nothing else, will develop a sense of heritage as to who they are and where they came from. Tell them about your parents and grandparents. Tell them about your joys, your heartaches and your sorrows. Tell them stories that will help them establish their genealogical roots to a nationality or a society.
If there is one thing you can leave your children and grandchildren, it is their place in the society of the human race. Help them to understand that they are unique individuals designed to fill a place in history, whatever it might be. Let them know they are somebody --- not a nobody.
Grandparenting is much like any other endeavor. The satisfaction you derive from it is in direct proportion to the effort you put into it.