The F-ing guide to grandparenting

how to be a grandparent

Without consistent commitment to the use of certain F-words, where might a grandparent be?

Not nearly as effective — or memorable — if you ask me.

Though many grandparents eliminate F-words from their vocabularies (at least when the G-kids are around) or ban the use of them from the kids themselves, I feel quite strongly that F-words should be accessed and emphasized. As often as possible. Especially when grandchildren are around.

Following are a few such F-words, five favorites of mine I focus on and do my best to use regularly in an effort to make a memorable impact — for better or for worse — on my grandkids.

 

FOOD
The grandma stereotype has us all donning aprons and baking up batch after batch of goodies for our grands. I admit I'm known for my chocolate chip cookies. And confetti popcorn. I rarely wear an apron when making either. Many grandparents eschew the sweets-for-treats tack of grandmas like me. I get it. But grandparents gotta go their own way, do their own thing. And having a go-to-goodie that grandkids associate with beloved grandparents is a given, whether root beer floats or stuffed celery sticks. Reasonable or not, the route to a grandkid's heart begins with the tongue and travels through the tummy — and remains in one's memory forever.

 

FITNESS
In light of all the goodies shared with grands, keeping calories from accumulating on Grandma's belly or behind — as well as keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check — matters. Immensely. Grandparents need not run marathons (though some do) nor spend hours at the gym seeking a sleek physique to improve their health and ability to keep up with the grands. Walking, bicycling, gardening, dancing, prancing or strutting one's stuff away from a screen on a regular basis contributes to creating an active lifestyle. Engaging in any of the above with grandkids increases the fun — and chances you'll be able to do so for many years to come.

 

FUN
Speaking of fun, grandparents of prior generations weren't expected to be that particular F-word. Today's grandparents are. Today's grandparents strive to be. Thankfully fun covers a vast and varied spectrum of ideas and activities. My kind of fun with kids — from watching movies to playing board games and hide-and-seek to reading and crafting to baking and biking and beyond — may not be your kind of fun. And that's okay because our individual choices of what's fun are a key factor in our individual grandparenting styles. Styles personalized to perfectly fit our very own pint-sized partners in fun.

 

FAITH
As Poison so earworm-incitingly expressed in the '90s, we all need something to believe in. We all choose what that is. As for me and my house, well, we serve the Lord. One's faith provides a moral code, comfort, community, security, hope and so very much more for turning to in good times and bad as well as all those in between. Commitment to and conversations about this particular F-word form the base of the legacy passed from grandparent to grandchild and generations to come. It's the one and only F-word on this list that lasts a lifetime. And beyond.

 

FORTITUDE
This F-word must be used in conjunction with each of the others above. See, favorite foods, fitness, fun, and a focus on faith are easily accomplished and enjoyed when grandparents feel fine, are rested, refreshed and raring to go. Thing is, like it or not, embrace it or ignore it, we grandparents are aging. We have days when the knees creak, nap time on the couch beckons, grandparenting elicits more groans than glee. Mustering the courage and commitment to consistently focus on important F-words, even when we just plain don't feel like it — at least to the best we can expect of ourselves without denying our limitations or chronic conditions — is key to effective F-word usage with grandkids.