GRANDparent Love: The Source of Our Strength
"What's Love Got to Do With It?"
As I reflect on fifty years of life, I am often amazed at just how good things really were for me. I was blessed to raise two beautiful daughters. I had the privilege of caring for two international students - my Caribbean daughters - as they studied here in the United States. I have had success as an educator, singer, pianist and budding author. All of these were motivated by the love I have for both music and children. Love is indeed a powerful force. It is more than an emotion. It is the fuel behind much of what we do for those around us each day.
When I found myself in the position of raising my grandson, the power of love kicked into high gear. There have never been adequate words to express the love I have always had for my daughter. When things fell apart, it was one of the most heart wrenching times of my life. Yet, the love never faded. The hope never faded. So when I walked in the house carrying my six month old grandson, realizing he was now my responsibility, it was an exponential level of love that gave me the strength to carry on.
You see, LOVE has everything to do with it when grandparents make the decision to raise their grandchildren. When the financial, physical and emotional challenges come to bear, our overwhelming love for these innocent children sparks new energy and deeper devotion. While we never stop loving our own children, we push past the hurt and seize the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our own legacy.
A Labor of LOVE
Every grandparent currently raising their own grandchildren appreciates the enormous responsibility. This is always a life-changing event. Getting to this point means that something went VERY wrong - death, divorce, substance abuse, abandonment - and any one of these scenarios presents its own difficulties. As we get older, issues of behavior management, declining health, financial struggles and the ever present generation gap add to the pressure. So this journey must quickly become a labor of love.
Although 1 out of 9.5 children are being raised part-time or full-time by their grandparents, in the United States there is little public awareness. There are no pats on the back, applauding crowds or mainstream media recognition on our behalf. There are many sleepless nights, calls from the school office and battles with our own children. Grandparenting is hard work, but for the vast majority, it is love that motivates us to keep moving forward. The best interest of the children is ALWAYS the top priority and concern. While age may not be in our favor, experience certainly makes a difference.
Whether you are a working grandparent or a retired one, this job of raising the next generation is not easy. We must be faithful, focused and fierce in our determination to put our grandchildren in a position to succeed, in spite of the circumstances. Some very successful individuals were raised by their grandparents. From James Earls Jones and Oprah Winfrey to George Lopez and President Barak Obama, there are those men and women whose success was realized because a grandparent clocked in and went to work - raising them to the best of their ability. This labor of love yields amazing fruit if we just stay the course!
Benefits on Both Sides
Love is a GRAND thing because the benefits are found on both the giving and receiving end of the effort. Once we push past all of the fear and frustration, it is the love we have for our grandchildren - and our children - that fills our hearts with joy and raises us up to fight another day. When my grandson comes running in the house to tell me how he got a 100% on his math test or hugs my neck and says, "Thank you gran-gran for my new desk!", I receive that love in the depths of my spirit and thank God for the opportunity to both give love and accept it in return.
The following video produced by "project PATCH" is a reminder that what the enemy means for bad, the Lord is able to turn for good if we just allow LOVE to permeate both sides of the situation. There are days when the struggle is a little too real, but where there is life, there is hope..and that is a fact.
STRENGH...You Have It
Merrium-Webster states the following about strength - "applies to the quality or property of a person or thing that makes possible the exertion of force or the withstanding of strain, pressure, or attack" - So what does that mean for the millions of grandparents who find themselves in the unexpected role of parent? YOU ARE STRONG. WE ARE STRONG. God has given us the ability to do this job, despite the strain, pressure and attacks we face each day. Because I am a born again believer, I know that all of my help comes from the Lord. He is my source of strength from moment to moment and for that I am truly grateful. Can I get an AMEN?
When you are tempted to throw in the towel, allow the power of love to hold you in your place. When you reach the boiling point with your own children, let the spirit of love flood the situation. When times get hard and you are at a total loss, remember WHY you are doing this job and WHO you are doing it for...you have all of the strength you need. Walk in faith. Believe in hope. Never forget that the source of our strength is LOVE.