On my last visit to see my granddaughters, I was reminded of a very important lesson: Don’t forget to hug your grandchildren’s parents before you rush past them to grab your grandchildren. In the past, in my excitement to see my granddaughters, I’ve been guilty of bypassing my daughter. Apparently, I’m not the only one. This blunder is universal enough to have been the subject of Rose is Rose, a comic strip by Pat Brady and Don Wimmer.
Lately, I may have lapsed because my daughter half jokingly said to me, “Mom, I think you just come up to see the girls and not me!” I realized she was telling me I’m not giving her the attention she needs. During that visit it became clear to me that our mother-daughter relationship frequently gets relegated to the back burner.
When my first granddaughter was born in 2003, I made a commitment to visit her twice month. After the second one came along, I had two wonderful reasons to make the 135-mile drive. Because of the distance, I usually stay two nights and spend every waking minute with my adorable granddaughters. I also try to provide some respite for my daughter and son-in-law so that they can go to a movie or out to dinner alone. But there never seems to be enough time to get in all the things we want to do.
On my last visit, I felt a lot of tension in the air during the first day, but we didn’t have an opportunity to sit down and discuss it. The tension continued to build and by the end of the second day I suggested that my daughter and I go for a walk the following morning—just the two of us. I had trouble falling asleep that night as I tried to think of the best way to bring up my concerns.
The next morning, during our long walk, my daughter and I each took turns sharing some of the feelings that had been building up. It was like releasing the air in an over-inflated tire. Suddenly, we were laughing and joking and a lightness returned that had been missing over the past two days. We both felt relieved and realized the importance of making time for each other.
The real lesson here is that no matter how much fun it is to play with your grandchildren, it’s equally important to make time to connect with their parents. By strengthening that primary relationship and working out the inevitable kinks that come up between parents and adult children, you’ll be guaranteed a better time with your grandchildren and children.