Where would we be without the influence of grandparents?

Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

They used to say that the best thing about grandchildren is that you can hand them back when you’re finished; the best thing about grandparents is that they rarely take that option.

Which is why we should cherish grandparents, and celebrate them – and acknowledge the part that they play in keeping the show on the road.

For a number of reasons, grannies and granddads are both the glue that binds and the oil that turns the wheel of family life.

There are the obvious economic reasons why this is so; for most young parents, one of them staying at home is not an option – and the cost of childcare is astronomical. So, if you’re lucky enough to have grandparents who will help, then count your blessings.

But it’s not just about money; grandparents are fonts of love and wise counsel, kindly people with time and smiles who rarely shout and always find space for diversion.

They store a depository of old nursery rhymes and stories, songs and dissertations. Because these are people who come from the era before tablet apps or even children’s television – when, if you had kids, you had to make your own entertainment.

Many of them welcome the second chance that grandkids give them – sometimes because they were too busy just trying to make ends meet when their own children were at this age; but also, because chasing an energetic toddler around all day somehow contrives to keep them young.

Despite the shelves and tomes that might suggest otherwise, there is no handbook for parenting – you learn it on the hoof. But grandparents were down this road before and, with the benefit of experience, they often do a better job second time round.

They have more time now that they’re retired, and they enjoy learning about a world of technology that can otherwise be a source of wonder and bafflement.

Grandparents are the anchor – but when it comes to learning from each other, this is a two-way street.

And, of course, they do know that they are not the primary carers anymore, not that they hold back on the love or time as a result – but it’s a joy they couldn’t have planned for themselves and, perhaps because of that, one they are only too happy to embrace.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.