10 Lessons from a Seasoned Grandma

Nineteen years ago on December 7, 2003, a group of wise grandmas gathered in my living room for the first meeting of the GaGa Sisterhood.  We began a conversation about what it means to be a modern grandma. I had recently witnessed the birth of my first grandchild and was eager to learn from other more experienced grandmas.

I knew I was not the first grandma to go totally “gaga” for my grandchild. I also recognized that parenting had changed significantly since I raised my kids and wondered how others were navigating their role as a grandma. Although that first meeting lasted three hours, we barely scratched the surface and we knew we wanted to dive deeper.

I never dreamed we would continue the conversation for the next two decades. But here we are in 2022 and the subject still fascinates me. It’s so juicy and complex that no matter how deeply we dive into it, there is always more to learn.

As author Barbara Graham says in her book, Eye of My Heart, “becoming a grandmother, a role that is as primal as parenthood, as universal as childhood, yet stirs unforeseen conflicts and expectations within families, can blindside you and set you spinning.”

Spinning, indeed! For me, it’s more like riding a rollercoaster blindfolded! But having sisters going through the same life passage has helped us figure out what sort of grandmas we want to be in the world.

Since 2003, I’ve featured speakers on every topic you can imagine from improv to insomnia to intergenerational travel. My mission is to inspire grandmas to keep growing and learning in ways that benefit the relationships with our adult children, our grandchildren, and ourselves.

Tips for Facing Grandma Challenges

Along the way, I wrote a book with a title that might surprise some new grandmas — When Being a Grandma Isn’t So Grand. I chose that title because honestly, most grandmas experience some heartache and frustration now and then. Over the past 19 years, my goal has been to help grandmas tackle such grandparenting challenges as understanding today’s parenting methods, building mutual trust and respect with your grandchildren’s parents, and coping with feeling unappreciated or disappointed.

Here are some insights I’ve learned over the past 19 years:

  1. Honest communication is crucial to every relationship no matter how challenging.
  2. Discuss boundaries and limitations early in your relationship.
  3. Talk about your expectations and your grandchild’s parents’ expectations.
  4. Learn how to apologize with grace and humility.
  5. It’s not a competition with the “other” grandparents.
  6. Grandmas need to talk to each other about the joys and challenges.
  7. Don’t take it personally no matter how much it feels that way.
  8. Relationships change over time – grandchildren grow up and have big lives.
  9. Cultivate a life of your own.
  10. Be conscious, curious, and communicative.

If you’re “gaga” for your grandkids and would like to meet other enthusiastic grandmas, go to our GaGa Sisterhood Meetup group to join. Our next Zoom meeting is on January 22, 2023, featuring Emily and Mike Morgan, creators of The Grand Life podcast.

Some Kudos We've Received

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