Presence of grandparents

T HERE is no substitute for grandparents in a child’s life. The benefit is immense.

I realise that many people we come into contact with haven’t known grandparents like I have. So let me give you some context.

Growing up in Maritzburg, we would often visit my mother’s parents in Durban North during my childhood and teenage years. A trip to Durban was usually on the cards during the course of a month.

I remember, clearly, the feeling walking into Gran and Grandad’s home. It was one of complete acceptance. You could be on death row and walk in there and feel like life was okay.

But more about my own grandparents in later blog posts…

As some of you know, I teach sport at a MCS Junior Primary. (It’s an awesome little school, incidentally.) In my job, I have found the words of Plato to ring true on numerous occasions:

You can learn more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.

After one sport lesson, I can tell you which children have had the input of grandparents in their lives. There’s an uncanny similarity, a strong common denominator… it’s an X-factor that’s hard to describe. The children are more confident, more well mannered and more content within themselves.

When I discovered I was going to be a father, I chatted with my boss at the time. He is an atheist. This is how I started the conversation:

“I’m going to be a dad in November, so any advice would be most welcome!” I quipped.

I sat down and listened. He thought carefully, and then said, “If you have a good relationship with your folks and your in-laws, make sure you hang around them. There’s benefit beyond babysitting.”

I’ve come to understand just how sound that advice is, as I observe the special relationship my kids have with each of their four grandparents. Like the primary role of a father and mother, there’s an integral role of a grandparent. A grandparent teaches in ways a parent can’t.

Kids turn out happier, their speech improves, their confidence builds, they know that they’re loved and that they belong.

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