The Art of Grand-Parenting

February 7, 2011 by Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
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Question:
Firstly, Mazel Tov on becoming a grandfather and may your new granddaughter bring you much joy and “naches”! In the past I attended your BINA Parenting classes. I recently also become a grandparent and was wondering if you are now going to give lectures on grand-parenting? I am looking forward to coming.

Answer:

Rabbi Michol Gourarie photo: Henry Benjamin

Thank you for your good wishes. Dina and I are filled with happiness and immense gratitude to G-d for all of His blessings and kindness. But I won’t be lecturing to grandparents just yet. Over the years I have thought a lot about parenting, but never really explored the subject of effective grandparenting. I am sure they are very different.

Yesterday a friend wished me Mazel Tov and said to me: “Becoming a grandfather is very special. In your lectures you often quote your grandfather; you must have had a special relationship with him. I wish you to have the same bond with your grandchildren.”

I did indeed have a very special “Zayde” whom I often think about and cherish the memories and amazing bond that we enjoyed with him. In the last few days I have been reflecting on what made him a special grandfather so that maybe I could learn a little.

I am sure that many ideas and feelings will emerge with time, but here are my initial thoughts:
The role of parents and grandparents are very different. Even the most loving and accepting parent still has a duty to instruct, educate, guide, communicate reasonable expectations and sometimes even discipline. Only a grandparent has the luxury of just accepting and showering huge doses of love in a way that is blatantly unconditional.

My “Zayde” was a very busy and popular communal figure. But when he would come and visit his grandchildren, play with them or tell them stories it was as if he had nothing else to do. He just made every grandchild feel that he/she was the most important figure in his life. He never instructed or lectured, as I am sure he would have done with his children. He left the teaching and instructing to the parents. The enormous impact that he had on us was by his mere presence, love and example.

I hope I can learn just a little from his example. But I am definitely not qualified for a series on the subject. So you and I will just have to learn on the job. Mazel Tov to you as well and good luck to us both. If I can be half the grandfather that mine was, my grandchildren will be blessed.

Comments

One Response to “The Art of Grand-Parenting”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Paul reminds us of a faith that first lived in the heart of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and how a Godly grandmother is one of the greatest gifts given a child.
    I suppose that would have to include grandfathers too, I wonder why he didn’t.
    Nothing patriarchical there.

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