A wise person once said, “It takes a village to raise a child”. When we think of this we think of a traditional family with close relatives and a great support system. However, our villages are transitioning too far from what some would call “traditional.” Instead some households have blended families and distant relatives. Some children are raised by grandparents. And it is not uncommon to consider some friends to be closer than family. Our village is ever-changing and as time goes on, we see that the world we grew up in is not the same world that we are giving our children. With this, we must find ways to hold our family traditions dear while also adapting to the new and exciting world.
Today’s Grandparents may not be blood-related. They may be close enough to see your children every day or maybe you have to settle for the occasional Facetime chat. Take a minute to think about the Grandparents that were in your life. Who were the elders that influenced you? Who are the elders that you hold dear to your children? Those are the ones we are referring to when we say “grandparents.”
I grew up 700 miles away from my grandparents. I remember my mother packing for days at a time and hauling us 12 hours across the country to visit her parents. I could always tell when we were close. As we traveled north, the air changed from warm and muggy to cool and dry. And once we reached my grandparent’s property I could smell the wildflowers. It was very different than the city that raised me. Visiting my Grandparents allowed me to experience a different way of life.
When visiting my Grandparents, we read stories from classic books such as “Tom Sawyer” and “Treasure Island”. We roamed my grandparent’s 40-acre property without worries. I remember going on treasure hunts and building forts. My Grandfather taught me the importance of growing your own food. His garden was our wonderland but he wouldn’t let us leave until we had put in some hard work. He taught us how to get our hands dirty and even had us crushing grubworms with our fingers! My Grandmother showed us what to do with our harvest. One of our favorites was when we would make fresh jam. Once the family finished eating we would take the scraps out for the wildlife to finish.
Our elders teach us of those traditions that are fading. They teach us how to give and receive unconditional love from someone other than Mom and Dad. Children are taught different ways of life, but also different ways of love. They see us care for our parents as they get older. Grandparents are often a child’s first experience with loss. Children learn empathy and strength from watching their grandparents grow older.
We start this life as kids needing care, then we grow into adults caring for our kids. As our kids grow and have their own children, we become the grandparents that tie the family together. We leave this life once again depending on others for care. We can only hope that our children and grandchildren learn enough in this lifetime to be the ones to care and love us as we grow. It takes a village to raise a child but this village is built and founded by us and the ones we love.
At WiregrassParents.com we want to help build your village. We work to provide parents with support and resources in the community in hopes that all of our children are able to grow with a “village”. Starting in May we want to shine a light on your village! Do you have family traditions you would like to share? We have a new column coming that will include a question and answer with local grandparents. If you know of some local grandparents that are doing great things, then reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured in our next column.