Intentional grandparenting

 

I'm smack dab in the middle of some quality time with my grandsons so I'm taking the easy way out today and publishing an old post—with new photos. I chose this one because as I visit with Bubby and Baby Mac, I'm trying to keep in mind the concept of which I wrote about then. This was originally published October 8, 2010 with the title Gramma's my name, being intentional's my game.

Seems the latest buzzword for grandparenting is intentional. Everywhere I look for info on grandparenting, I find books and articles about being intentional.

What the cuss does it mean to indulge in intentional grandparenting, you ask?

The definition of intentional, according to Miriam Webster, is "done by intention or design; intended."

With that definition in mind, I'd first like to say that I had absolutely nothing to do with becoming a grandma; there was no intention whatsoever about getting the position. A position, I'll add, I was thrilled to accept.

Peggy Edwards, in her book Intentional Grandparenting: A Boomer's Guide, calls intentional grandparenting "a process for planning ahead and taking deliberate action to be the kind of grandparent you want to be."

That definition could apply to everyone -- not just grandparents -- because it seems a good idea to strive to be intentional in all relationships. That said, because I'm a grandma and because I'm a grandma blogger, this here little blog post focuses only on intentional grandparenting. And how I succeed -- and fail -- at it.

There apparently are several tenets of the intentional grandparent game, many which just sound like common sense to me, but here are the rules, according to Grandparents.com:

Intentional grandparents ...

1. Plan special times together.

2. Ask the parents to stay away!

3. Take advantage of the resources around you.

4. The simplest pleasures are often the best.

5. Make a plan, but be flexible.

6. See things through the kids' eyes.

7. Give them your undivided attention.

See what I mean? Common sense. (And if you're confused about the "Ask the parents to stay away!" rule, it just means to spend time specifically with the grandchildren without the parents around.)

So I have most of those down pretty well. As a long-distance grandparent, No. 1 comes pretty easily; I have no choice but to plan the cuss out of our visits. I fully intend to be at his place or fully intend to have him be at my place.

But the one I do best? I'd have to say it's No. 7, "Give them your undivided attention." When I'm with Bubby, he is the full focus of everything I say, do, think. He has my undivided attention. Maybe that's where being a long-distance grandma comes in handy, because if he lived nearby, I swear I'd get nothing done. Every second would be dedicated to him. At least until grandbaby No. 2 comes along. (How do you grandmas of many do it?)

The rule of intentional grandparenting at which I fail? In my mind, there's no doubt it's No. 6, "Seeing things through the kids' eyes." I'm not very good at seeing things through Bubby's eyes. I want to show him life through MY eyes because my eyes have been around a lot longer, have seen a lot more, have learned to filter out that which doesn't really matter.

Thing is, I'm starting to realize that the things that don't really matter to me aren't necessarily the things that don't matter to others. In this case, Bubby. While I'm rushing to show him the cool things at the park or in the backyard or in a book we're reading, he's dawdling and heading toward what most interests his little eyes: the balance beam at the park that he surely can't balance on but that makes a great spot for lining up some rocks; the vines that cling to the trees, walks and walls of the backyard require touching and tugging before we finally reach the rustic metal dinosaur legs sprouting from Gramma's garden; the miniature secondary illustrations framing the page of a picture book are much more interesting than the big ol' drawings that depict exactly what's going on in the story.

I need to follow Bubby's lead a little lot more in such things and work at seeing the world through his eyes. I may see what I think matters; Bubby sees what is magical.

My plan is to work on marveling at the magical, seeing things the way Bubby sees them.

My plan is to work at becoming a fully intentional grandma.

Sometimes even the common-sensical can use a little intentional attention.

Today's question:

Applying the rules of intentional grandparenting to any relationship, which do you think you are most and/or least successful at?