Grandfatherhood: A second chance to get it right

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The joy of fatherhood: Helpful tips for fathers and men who want to become fathers

by Morris Turner

All of us, men and women alike, have thoughts of our past that we wish we could revisit and improve upon. I know especially as fathers, there are sometimes situations that we could have handled better. Maybe we could have listened a little closer, been a little more patient or just taken more time out of our busy lives to just “hang out” with our children.

Amaya, Morris’ granddaughter, playing legos at the Space Center
Amaya, Morris’ granddaughter, playing legos at the Space Center

Now that I am a grandfather, I’m realizing the joy and opportunity it gives me to just love and be loved. My grands live in Southern California, so I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like, but when I do, I make the most of it. I also understand that some of you reading this have the opposite experience in that you are raising your grandchildren and wish you could get a little break, now and then, from that overwhelming responsibility. Either way, we as grandparents can be an incredible source of comfort and support for our grandchildren, that they cannot find anywhere else in their lives.

For the next month or two, I will be focusing on the unique opportunity we have to impact our grandchildren’s lives as well as the delicate line we must respect between ourselves and their actual parents.

One of the most critical and often difficult things for a grandparent to do is “bite your tongue.” You see things the parent is or is not doing that may be harmful to the child, at least in your humble opinion. Unless it is a life and death issue, keep your feelings to yourself. No parent wants to be told how to raise their child or children – or don’t you remember how it was when you were first a parent?

I always try to remember the passage from “The Prophet” by Khalil Gibran, where he says, “Your children come through but belong not to you.” This is certainly accurate when it comes to grandchildren. The good news is that as grandparents, unless we have the primary responsibility of raising them, we get to have all the fun and very little of the responsibility.

In the upcoming articles I will talk about some of fun things I do with my grandchildren and some of the things I continue to learn about being a grandparent. In the meantime, I encourage you to forward any thoughts or ideas you may have about how we can all be better grandparents.

Morris Turner is the father of two sons, ages 39 and 35. Over the past 45 years he has worked with children and young people in a variety of settings, including as preschool teacher, career counselor, family mentor and sports coach. He is also an author and recognized researcher in the area of African American settlement in the United States, but his greatest pleasure today is learning to be a good grandpa. He can be reached at missnpages@comcast.net or by calling 707-794-0729.

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