Written by: Lorena Morales González
Translated by: Lorena Martínez Lombard
For those who have them close by, I consider it to be more than a privilege, but a right, for children to have access to love and time with their grandparents. I even believe that if this were considered a right, we would have happier and healthier children.
I make this affirmation after reflecting upon my own experiences, and motivated by my reading of The Etruscan Smile, a novel by José Luis Sampedro (1985). Through its sensible prose, the novel describes the differences in how a child loves and relates towards his parents and his grandfather.
In his novel. Sampedro depicts not only happiness, but also family difficulties between a child and his grandfather. While the child’s parents seek to establish a more “modern” style of parenting, his grandfather struggles to keep his town’s customs and traditions alive.
Because he is their first child, the parents view the grandfather’s case as an intrusion, based on books and new educational tendencies. To me, this seemed as contemporary as it is universal (at least in occidental cultures): “you are going to spoil him”, “you are wasting his education” are common phrases among uncomfortable parents. Throughout time, however, our own maturity helps us become thankful towards these special moments, and we begin to acknowledge the invaluable gift of giving our children this oasis.
The wisdom gained from our parent’s experiences provide us with a valuable perspective, regarding the lives we bring into the world. Both our parent’s and ancestor’s stories provide elements that help shape our children’s personal and family identity. They provide a guide into the world, as well as advice regarding human nature. They are the link that maintain traditions alive: posadas, Christmas dinners, Mother’s Day, Day of the Dead – traditions that unite the family and give us a place inside this globalized world.
Above all, those of us who have the fortune of having children that spend time with their grandparents become witnesses of a different, intense, transparent kind of love. It is marvelous to watch grandparents transform into children when playing with their grandchildren, to observe their admiration and the connection that is created.
However, what can we do to obtain, or improve, a harmonious relationship with grandparents? As parents, we can consider the following:
- Establish a visiting day, and make it special. Look for motives to celebrate as a family, and give thanks for another birthday, accomplishment, or simply sharing each other’s happiness.
- Comprehend and be empathetic towards our parent’s, in-law’s, or any older person’s perspective. This is important in establishing a good relationship between them and our children. They grew up and received education from a very, very different world than the one we live in, but that does not mean their teachings have expired. We can always learn from their wisdom.
- Be flexible and give them the liberty to spend time and pamper our children, even though the rules in our house are different. We can always pretend we never saw all those candies our children received behind our back.
- Allow us to be a bit childish and enjoy these moments with our children. Our elders allow themselves to be more authentic and show their emotions: we sometimes need this in our adult world as well.
- Treasure and be thankful for the time we spend with our parents and elders. The example we teach our children when it comes to being caring and loving are values they will carry throughout their entire lives.
Our children learn so much from being loved unconditionally, admired patiently, accepted and pampered, even by acting as partners in crime with their dear grandparents.
And as these children’s parents, we gain so much – not only by accepting these relationships, but by fomenting and caring for them as a right.
As an educative platform that promotes child rights, Pequeñ@s Ciudadan@s seeks to help know and foment the right to emotional health. Our team is advised by medics, psychologists, educators, lawyers and philosophers that share information and formative activities regarding Culture of Lawfulness for children. We invite you to share our articles and be informed of more information through our Facebook page.
Lorena Morales is a clinical psychologists, psychotherapist and thanatologist, specialized in individual, partner and family therapy. Founder of Blueprint, through which she also offers capacitation to families and educational institutions.