In grandparenting, as our families increase in number, that feeling of not being good enough, doing enough, or being enough comes easily. There just seems to be soooooooooooo many bases to cover. Yet for some grandparents the experience is the flip side. The bases are silent. Their children (with their families) move far away, or for some other reason become distanced and choose to leave the grandparents out of the activity of their lives. Either way—overwhelmed with our families or rejected by them—it becomes easy to question our worth.
What really matters? As grandparents, how can we be good enough, do enough, be enough? This post gives one concrete answer to that question and then lists a few idea suggestions.
The one concrete answer to the “enough” question is to not give up; do our best with the knowledge we have and keep on trying.
Now with that said, here are a few idea suggestions.
If you fall in the category of being overwhelmed with too many bases to cover:
1. Set goals. Plan ahead with goals for yourself, goals to accomplish with your family, and (very important) goals to accomplish with your spouse. In your goal planning, pay attention to your limits. Not just your physical limits, but your emotional limits as well. Be reasonable. Pace yourself.
2. Communicate. When events or situations come up where you cannot be in two places at once, express your feelings of love and concern, joy and appreciation. If you are in a position to do so, make a conciliatory offer. “Betty, I am so sorry you are not feeling well today. I am concerned about you. How about my coming to visit you tomorrow? Will two o’clock work out well, or will you be napping?”
3. Recognize happiness. You cannot be racing from here to there constantly and feel peace. Your spirit needs some semblance of quiet time to recognize and feel happiness. Stop. Breathe. Sit on the porch steps or in your front room rocker. Slow your mind down. Calm your soul and notice the many beauties that surround you—the brilliant colors of summer or the gentle falling snowflakes of winter—and adopt the attitude of gratitude.
If you fall in the category of being distanced from your family:
1. Take the initiative. When it is not alienation that has distanced you, just busyness, be the one to reach out. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you go visit them. You call to see how they are. You write letters and send simple packages to the grandchildren. You be the one to take the time to find out about and attend their activities—sports, music, school, church. Do it. Regardless of whether your family reciprocates, do your part to reach out with love.
2. Learn something new. Further study an old (or new) interest or hobby. Start a club—book club, sewing club, cooking club, compassionate service club . . .
3. Embrace positive friendships. Realize the full benefits of spending time with people who enjoy the same things you do, those with the same values. Choose individuals you can trust to keep confidences. Then if you feel overwhelmed, you can dump and diffuse the negative through your trusted friends.
4. Choose to be happy. Do away with old patterns and habits that remind you of sadness and past regrets. Exchange them with patterns of gratitude. Let go and smile with the happiness of life.
When we focus on our blessings rather than on what we lack, more days become filled with joy rather than doubt and questioning. We can, indeed, be good enough, do enough, and be enough!
Fay A. Klingler is the author of the best-selling book The LDS Grandparents’ Idea Book, I Am Strong! I Am Smart! and many other books and articles (www.fayklingler.com). She can be contacted on her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/FayKlingler.
Thank you, Fay! When my children were young I really struggled with self esteem issues and worries about not being enough. Those struggles fogged up my view of our little family and kept me from being able to fully enjoy the miracle of family that was all around me. This is some wonderful advice! ~Sheryl
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