We just returned from a trip to Phoenix where we experienced the joy of meeting our first granddaughter when she was just hours old. We fell in love with her immediately and celebrated with a cadre of relatives who surrounded this loved baby girl. I am humbled by the responsibility.
Over the years, I have completed hundreds of family genograms to explore clients’ family heritage and characters of influence. I cue clients to identify their “angel person.” The one person whom they felt loved them unconditionally and accepted them just as they were, their ultimate source of encouragement. Many angel people are grandparents. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve witnessed eyes full of tears as clients express the positive influence a grandparent has had on their lives. While parents were busy with the details of living, developing a career, or in some cases, immature themselves, it was the grandparent who provided wisdom, patience, understanding, and unconditional love. Or just time.
For most of my clients, memories with grandparents are precious: fishing, hiking, camping, baking, time on the porch swing, reading, playing games, singing songs, caring for animals, gardening, vacations, and cousin time. The list is endless.
I always feel sad for clients whose grandparent involvement was not positive. They lacked the important bond that provided strength, assurance, and stability. In my own experience, it was my maternal grandmother who lived across the road and two fields over who provided the time, guidance, and acceptance I missed from my parents.
Now that we are grandparents–with the added challenge of geographical distance–we dedicate ourselves to making positive memories with our new granddaughter, and all future grandchildren, that will provide a source of strength, adventure, and unconditional love.