Many people can say they're a grandmother, but actually being a good one is an entirely different ball game. From unconditionally supportive to a loving and trusted listener, here are seven things you want to "be" to maintain a strong relationship with your grandkids through the years.
1. Be unconditional.
Grandchildren come in assorted shapes, sizes, aptitudes, and attitudes, with varied qualities and quirks. Love them because of those, regardless of those, in spite of those — just love them, period.
2. Be fair.
Wherever two or more grandkids gather or grow, the possibility for a grandparent playing favorites flourishes. Avoid the all-too-human temptation to fancy one over another.
3. Be forgiving.
Grandchildren will inevitably — in some ways small, others larger — fail you, hurt you, do wrong by you, do wrong despite their better judgement and upbringing. They are human, just like the rest of us. They deserve forgiveness, just like the rest of us.
4. Be creative.
Seek new and novel activities, events, and ways to connect. Pursue unique and uncommon opportunities to get together, play together, wonder together, learn, laugh, and love others together.
5. Be there — even when you're not.
When with grandchildren, be present not preoccupied or plugged in. Genuinely listen, respond, react to the unique piece of you in your presence. When apart, ensure grandkids know how to reach you by phone, email, regular mail, and social networks (as appropriate). There's comfort for both sides in knowing you're nearby albeit afar.
6. Be willing to take a backseat.
Additional grandmothers and others — and parents, of course — loom large in the lives of beloved grands. Sometimes more often, more prominently, more locally than you. Grandchildren need networks of important, impactful adults in their lives. Allow space for such, sans groans or grudges.
7. Be yourself.
Grandchildren ideally have passels of people who delight in and adore them. Yet they have only one you. Rather than compare yourself to allegedly enviable others, relax and bask in just being yourself — the only beloved you your grandchildren expect and want you to be.
This essay originally appeard on GrandmasBriefs.com and was reprinted with permission.