In the Family Way

Elvie Ancheta

Shout out to grandparents. I am a first time grandmother to a one-year-old little man.

He is a mirror image of my son’s temperament. Raising my rambunctious son offered me many life lessons. I was learning as I go. The school of life taught me how to manage motherhood, school, and career. I am full of enlightened memories of failures and successes. I look back with boundless acceptance of my imperfect growth and development as I journey through my life stages thus far.

Now that I’m a grandmother, the school of life is still giving me lessons, and I am still learning as I go.

Little children are full of potential. The first year of life is an accelerated physical and mental development. Everything is learning. Learning to feed, learning to crawl, learning to walk and learning to socially interact are predictable progressions. Mama and Dada words are enough to get the adults in a little child’s life break out into cheer. He learns early on the power of his smiles and cuteness attributes.

It is hard to imagine that any child at this age can grow up to be other than a happy fulfilled adult. But children do. They grow up to be knowing different things, valuing different possessions and pursuing different goals. Different from yours. They constantly learn from those around them, especially from the adults who have already gone through most of the school of life.

Reaching a grandma status must earn us a school of life master’s degree. Which got me thinking.

What can I do to help my grandson prepare him for his future life journey with joyful optimism? How can I help prepare him to become an advancing adult? His father and mother will have the biggest influence in his life, but grandparents have the opportunity to be influential teachers as well. After all, we have gone through the school of life a bit longer. My life journey taught me that:

• Self-reliance is required to function independently — Let’s teach our children to believe in their ability to influence the world around them by doing and not waiting for someone to do it for them. Allow them to try, fail and succeed, and offer guidance and safety measures as needed. Minor cuts and bruises endured.

• Optimism is essential for handling challenging situations — It’s a good antidote for learned helplessness. Optimism give us hope for a better future and better outcomes. Without hope, there is no motivation to try especially in the midst of difficult situation. Life is sprinkled with difficult situations. Failure is the first step to success. The first step is wobbly, but soon enough the child is running fearlessly.

• Self-efficacy will keep you reliable — Let’s teach our children to plan and do. Not just plan to be the next high jumper, but not try to jump. Model the behavior. If you promised something, make sure you deliver. As messy as it can get, allow them to feed themselves when they show the desire to do so, and yes, with their own tiny clumsy hands.

• Gratefulness makes less more — Be grateful for every little thing. It’s like a prayer. The more you are grateful about something, the more you attract them. Harvest the good, always. 

• Planned pessimism is a good thing — Optimism is essential but a planned pessimism can prepare us to handle situations when things go wrong. And things do go wrong. The school of life if full of examples. If we plan ahead for stormy days, we can manage better.

• Discomfort can improve resiliency — We do not know comfort if we have not gone through discomfort. We have to accept both. As we experience discomforts in varying degrees, we develop more resiliency to weather through difficult times. Life is not always comfortable and nice.

• Giving and receiving are one continuum — You get more for what you give. Let’s teach them to give selflessly. 

• Healthy relationships are important — It takes personal responsibility to develop good healthy relationships. Every child needs and deserves human connections to support and nurture their pure potentiality. 

• Life-long learning must not stop — The school of life exists as long as we live. There is always something we can learn from nature, circumstances and each other. 

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