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The Art of Loving our Children’s Children

July 19, 2022

Another Way for week of July 1, 2022

The Art of Loving our Children’s Children

“The Family Circus” (by Bil Keane) had a great cartoon recently with big sister telling little brother, “When you and I have children, Mommy and Daddy will be promoted to grandparents.”

Ah yes, and a great promotion it is—and one never to be taken for granted.

It made me think of the book I’m reading right now, The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children (Broadleaf Books, 2022), written by the duo Shirley Showalter and Marilyn McEntyre. Shirley lived in our city (Harrisonburg, Va.) a number of years (besides going to college here where she met her husband Stuart—with the same spelling as my husband’s name!). Shirley is an award-winning educator, author, speaker and grandmother, who earlier served as president of Goshen College in Indiana where I grew up. Marilyn lives on the west coast and is also an award-winning spiritual writer, speaker and professor. Together they have a total of 12 grandchildren.  

After my husband and I held our first “cousin camp” three years ago and I wrote about our adventures in my column/blog, Shirley invited me to come over to her house for tea and discussion about the art of grandparenting. She was exploring writing a book about such things. I enjoyed our conversation, and sharing stories and experiences—but at that point I was writing a work memoir and I told her I needed to focus on that. (Which you will hear more about in a few weeks!)

Marilyn and Shirley pause during a book interview about The Mindful Grandparent.

Krista Tippett, radio host of the “On Being” NPR program and podcast exclaimed of The Mindful Grandparent, “A book I did not know I was waiting for. A gift to our world.” That endorsement caught my attention.

The authors proclaim that “loving our children’s children well is an art—one we keep learning as they grow.” I can see how that is true. I relate to our eight-year-old grandsons much differently now than I did seven or eight years ago. The early baby days are so sweet and fun but the middle years of their childhood offer opportunities to see the world in new ways—with them.

One of my grandsons makes a card during Cousin Camp.

Marilyn and Shirley’s book kicks off the grandparent journey by first covering pregnancy and labor and delivery (and how much do grandparents participate if invited?); how to decide on a name for your new role that suits you and that the little ones can say; how to have meaningful rituals included in baby showers; serving as a “grand nanny,” which Shirley did for a year in New York City; discovering the larger world through play, books, art, and nature; exploring feelings and difficult times with a death in the family or when a child has special needs. Altogether the book addresses 52 different themes and challenges of grandparenting: many many more topics I would never have thought of unless I had diligently sat down to think through the available angles for such a book.

The authors conclude each chapter with a dandy list of suggested resources if you want to find more help or information on a given topic. Those informative helps and ideas are a great addition to this easy-reading book.

I especially like the chapter titled “Simple Gifts” where Marilyn delves in to how to give gifts to our beloved grands in a culture where “companies are targeting the ‘two-year-old market’ and small children are asking for iPads, video games, and things that squeak and ding and provide instant feedback.” Marilyn signals that grandchildren may learn to look forward to experiences with grandparents, rather than receiving more “stuff” to sit on a shelf on languish in the toy room.

Playing The Game of Life with Mommy and Grandpa.

I had to think of the call to share experiences together as we spent time with our five grandsons recently. Next week I’ll share our experiences with our second Cousin Camp with all five grandsons held in late June. Meanwhile check out The Mindful Grandparent (inquire at a bookstore or on Amazon) to put it on your own must-read list!

***

If you’ve already read or seen The Mindful Grandparent, what parts did you connect with most?

If you had time to write your own grandparenting recommendations, what would you include?

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Comment here or write to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

4 Comments
  1. As you may know, I’ve read and reviewed Marilyn and Shirley’s fine book, one chock full of mindful suggestions and useful resources. You also know that I’ve blogged often about our own experiences grand-parenting three grandsons and one grand-daughter. Our Jenna turned 17 today and our birthday gift to her was a hand vacuum because her older brother is taking the one she has been using off with him to college at the University of Florida. His cousin, our second grandson, will be a freshman there too. It’s mind-boggling: They were little, then they were “middle,” and now two are on the brink of adulthood with the others not far behind.

    Thus, I read The Mindful Grandparent as a retrospective, recalling many of the suggestions we actually implemented when they were much younger. As I said in my review, “As a grandparent of four teens, this book invited me to reminisce and pause to consider my legacy.” Thanks for sharing your perspective on a book I regard as a must-read for those on the threshold of grand-parenting or long-time elders. Photos are precious. I enjoyed yours, Melodie!

  2. I don’t even want to think about sending grands off to college. Yet I remember, fondly, one of my daughter’s roommates at her college was seen off to school by her grandparents who excitedly helped (or watched) move-in day in Williamsburg! You seem to have adjusted well to the teen and young adult years and welcoming the new connections/growth it brings for all. Blessings to your “big” ones!

    • I don’t know how well I’m “adjusting,” We are one of the rare type of grandparents who’ve been able to see our grandchildren grow up in the same town. Our daughter and I have been talking about sending “care” packages (cookies, etc.) to the boys after they get settled at College and maybe feel a little homesick. Ha!

  3. What a delight to read this lovely review with your own family stories and photos woven in, Melodie. As you know, an author puts a book out in the world and then waits to see what readers do with it. Marilyn and I called our memories “learning moments.” I think every grandparent who takes the role seriously has many of these. One of the best parts of writing the book was the Monday morning phone calls we had all through 2020. That’s how those 52 topics emerged. We started with 25 chapters in our proposal but kept them short so that we could cover more as the chapters evolved and new ideas cropped up. Your own blog writing (and Marian’s above — and numerous others) has inspired me to recognize that these years with young children, again, will fly by just as fast (faster??) than our own children’s birthdays did. We can’t waste them!

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