Parenting Tips from a Pro (not me)

29 Sep

My grandparents raised 8 boys. EIGHT. BOYS. Not only did they see these boys safely to adulthood, they raised eight outstanding, successful men. It was an incredible parenting feat, one I puzzle over regularly when mired in the many confusions of caring for TWO children.

It certainly helped that they had a farm with plenty of acreage for the boys to get their ya-yas out–my impression is that there were times of the year when my grandmother would open the back door and shoo everyone out with instructions to stay gone until lunch. But actually, in that anecdote is the kernel of another quality I believe made their parenting successful–a laissez-faire attitude.

My grandfather is on his own now after my grandmother’s death in May of this year, and I’ve gotten in the rhythm of a weekly lunch with him. I bring a sandwich or a couple of salads, and we perch at his kitchen counter and eat and talk for an hour. My grandmother was their front-woman, so I’d never really talked to him before her death–not REALLY. His lips are also loosened by his creeping dementia; his confusion has increased in the wake of her passing as if she was his tether to reality. While this makes me sad, it also makes him a fascinating lunch companion because he has almost no filter anymore, and a willingness to roam his memories aloud at length.

This past week I was asking him about what it was like to raise all those boys. I said whatever they did clearly worked pretty well and I could use some tips. He thought about it for a minute with a half smile, and then offered, “I think what I’d say we mostly did is take a hands-off approach.”

He continued, warming to his subject, “I remember when my mother died she left each boy a small bequest, about a thousand dollars for each boy. Your grandmother wanted to put the money right in the bank, but I resisted. ‘Give each boy his money and let’s see what they do,’ I told her, so we did. It was hard to give them that much freedom, especially financial freedom, but I was really curious. And they did a wonderful job, just wonderful. Some of them did put the money right in the bank. Others spent it on needed items, or things they only thought they needed but were happy to have. None of them wasted it. I was proud.”

Kind of wishing I could prove to him how responsible his grandchild would be with that kind of money, but I digress. My kids are only elementary-school aged, and I struggle with what things to help with and what to let them hack through themselves. Also I’m a stay at home parent; it’s hard for me to act like I have a whole lot of better things to do than be up in their business. But this conversation with my grandfather gave me new resolve; when in doubt, I could do worse than to step back and let them flail a little. I love them, and I should trust them, too.

2 Responses to “Parenting Tips from a Pro (not me)”

  1. Jess October 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm #

    Love this… And love that you are officially blogging!

    • amomynous2 October 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

      Thank you, dearheart. So jealous that Lee got to see you all last week! XOX

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