Qualities Which Cause Grandparents to Be Considered Saints
The word “saint” has a variety of meanings. Here, it refers specifically to someone whose life merits the highest honor.
While grandchildren may not be interested in canonization, some regard their grandparents with utmost respect. They summarize their feelings with “My grandmother is a saint,” or “I have a saint for a grandfather.”
In recent years, grandparents are establishing even more saintly profiles. According to a 2010 study reported by Amy Goyer in AARP Magazine, grandparents have replaced parents as heads of household for 4.9 million American children under age 18, and the numbers increase every year.
There is also the The Granny Nanny Phenomenon in which grandparents become live-in nannies to help raise the grandchildren and cut the cost of living for both parents and grandparents. In such multigenerational households, grandparents have endless opportunity to enjoy and influence the grandchildren.
From personal experience and the many stories of grandparents’ saintly performances, here are some observations which cause a grandparent to be considered a saint.
Age and Wisdom
Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric. - Pam Brown
Grandparents tend to receive more reverence from the grandchildren than from their own children. The grandchildren see them as old and (if rightly influenced by the parents) deserving of respect. Grandparents are accepted as honorable and wise. They are expected to know the answers to all the questions and to be fair in their judgments.
Grandparents in their twenties and thirties may have to work at establishing their profiles of age and wisdom; but still, the grandchildren admire them for having authority over their (the grandchildren's) parents.
Acceptance and Love
They [grandparents] give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. - Rudolph Giuliani
It seems that grandparents carry inside them tanks that are always full of love. Their eyes light up and their arms extend whenever they see the grandchildren. They forget and forgive the misdeeds of the youngsters. What grandchild does not remember a term of endearment or a prophetic title that came regularly from a grandparent’s lips?
As for accepting love, grandparents they border on fanaticism. A toddler’s first attempt to say grandma comes up in every conversation for a week; a preschooler’s drawing of grandma and grandpa gets the prime spot in the family room. Almost every word and gesture are evidence of the grandchild’s love, and this kind of acceptance makes the grandchild feel worthy.
Often grandparents dispense love, patience and kindness where parents dispense discipline. They personify love for the grandchildren.
The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. - Sam Levenson
Teenage grandchildren pray for the grandparents to see them through the years under their parents’ jurisdiction. They need trusting grandparents to help them relate how they got into trouble and to convince the unreasonable (their opinion) parents that their apology is sincere. They need understanding grandparents to help the insensitive (their opinion) parents see that their restrictions are too harsh. They foresee a difficult life without grandparents who are the mediators between youth just wanting to enjoy life and parents who see danger around every corner.
When wise grandparents get involved, they are able to present positive perspectives which soften the parents. Whenever the grandparent creates an effective strategy for compromise, the grandchildren know for sure that grandparents have saintly abilities.
Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. - Alex Haley
Grandparents empower the grandchildren with their commitment to support their goals and efforts. They promote joy and confidence in the hearts of the young dreamers. What sacrifice the grandparents make to show up at ball games, recitals, graduations and weddings! The grandchildren feel honored when what they do is important enough to merit the approval and participation of the grandparents.
Much of my paternal grandmother’s support was financial. My father died when I was an infant, and his mother provided for my needs from infancy through my high school years. I remember her saying, “It doesn’t matter what I do not have; whatever you need, I’ll try my best to get it for you.” Those to me, are words of a saint.
My mother and I lived with her mother who was the single most influential person in my life. My maternal grandmother was the person I most wanted to be like. Her spiritual posture and wisdom are still the qualities to which I aspire. Her continual affirmations and trust in me fed my sense of worth. The highest compliment I have ever received is from those who say that my words or deeds remind them of my grandmother.
I was blessed to have two saints for grandmothers.
What a wonderful contribution our grandmothers and grandfathers can make if they will share some of the rich experiences and their testimonies with their children and grandchildren. - Vaughn J. Featherstone
What's Special About Your Grandparent?
What have you specially enjoyed from a grandparent or grandparent figure?
In most households, some parents are still struggling to achieve their goals, and the children see in their struggle the difficulties of adulthood. They watch the parents shuffle bill payments while exerting great effort to keep the family functional. They would be encouraged to see how the struggle pays off.
Meanwhile the older grandparents tell stories of how they persevered until life became more manageable. They tell how they overcame as individuals or as part of a team. They point to structures they helped to build, the laws they helped to change, the trophies they won. Because of the grandparents’ stories of overcoming, the children understand that there is reward for their parents’ labors, and will eventually be for theirs.
Grandparents are qualified to offer the challenge for the grandchildren to plan, work and succeed. They are the proof that life is worth the struggle. They are indeed, saints who beckon the grandchildren to follow their footsteps to add pride, joy and satisfaction to the family portrait.
© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers