Grandparenting: The Ultimate Extreme Sport
- base jumping
- body boarding
- cliff jumping
- motor crossing
- hang gliding
- ice climbing
I can assure you that at age 50, NONE of these are on my bucket list. The Lord has given me many good years and good health to go with it so the idea of risking it all for a "recreational" activity is outside the realm of reality for me. According to dictionary.com, these extreme sports involve high risk and aggressive stunts. I never imagined myself taking on that kind of challenge - and then I brought my 6 month old grandson home from the hospital - GAME ON!
Was the risk high? Absolutely. The life, health and future of this precious soul was now in my care. Failure was not an option because the risk was too great. If you are raising your grandchildren, welcome to the ultimate extreme sport. Of the many activities you may have taken part in over the years, this is the one in which we must find the greatest measure of success. We have already taken the greatest risk when we accepted the responsibility of becoming the primary caregiver for these amazing little people. We are risking our homes, health and financial stability by getting in the game, but we are in it to win it.
"Grandparenting offers us a chance to help groom a generation for greatness."
- T. Kimmel
This dangerous, exciting adventure is fraught with amazing highs and unimaginable lows. While the advantage of age and experience lay on our side of the arena, the cultural competition in today's moral climate is a formidable opponent. In my article, Grandparents Raising Grandkids, I reminded readers that this was NOT the 70s, 80s, or 90s! Our grandchildren face a world where they are bombarded with over 4,000 messages a day. The majority of those messages are sexual, sensual, and/or violent in nature. Television, cell phones, tablets, school, friends, music, video games -- all of these are speaking to our grandchildren each day. We are the guardians of legacy that is our grandchildren. This is one game we can't afford to lose.
Aggressive & Spectacular Stunts...ME?
extreme sport: any recreational activities that involve high risk, aggressive and spectacular stunts, and which appeal to the young
Nationwide, one child in 10 lives in the same household as a grandparent, according to the Pew Research Center. Of those children, 41% are being raised primarily by a grandparent. If you find yourself in the unique position of raising your grandchild, then you have already performed some "aggressive and spectacular stunts" at this point. From volleying mixed emotions all over the court - resentment, love, gratitude, anger, sadness, isolation - to bungee jumping into family feuds and legal maneuvering that would bring the average person crashing to the ground in total defeat. Yes, you have earned the right to be called "GRAND" today, so give yourself a round of applause.
This level of commitment is nothing new. The enormity of responsibility resting squarely on your shoulders is not without precedent.
"Now in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite; - Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. - And he brought up Hadassah, that is, Esther, his uncle's daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid was fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter." - Esther 2:5-7
Mordecai had no idea that the fate of Jewish people was resting on his ability and willingness to step into the role of parent when his young niece found herself orphaned. The Jews are alive and well today because one man was willing to perform aggressive and spectacular stunts on behalf of Esther. At risk to his own life, he accepted the challenge and that decision ultimately saved a nation.
GRANDPARENTHOOD IS A SACRED CALLING!
Let the Games Begin
Grandparents raising their grandchildren is not a targeted phenomenon. This new reality represents all socioeconimic and ethnic group and finds individuals living in every state of this great nation. There are over 8,000 of us taking part in this extreme sport called grandparenting. As we contend with the daily challenges of our new reality, I find it helpful to focus on the benefits. As with any game, I play to win so it is easy for me to focus on the rewards at the end. That reminds me of something I learned over my 25 years as an educator. "Begin with the end in mind." So what are the parenting-perks we gain by taking part in this extreme sport?
- We now get a fresh opportunity to parent. If hind sight is 20/20, then we are in a position to accomplish great things the second time around.
- The natural grandparent bond is even closer because we are in the trenches, building relationships that are life changing on both sides.
- The opportunity to make a difference, change the course of our grandchildren's lives is within our grasp now - how awesome is that?
- Although it seemed we were about to be tagged out of the game, we now live lives of great purpose as we help our grandchildren achieve their dreams.
- If 40 is the new 30, then that makes 50 the new 40, 60 the new 50....you get the idea. This adventure is keeping us young and active and that is a good thing.
The Ultimate "Bucket List"
You only get one chance to take part in the extreme sport of grandparenting, so make the most of it. The challenges of fighting with our own children, figuring out the budget and finding time to get some rest will be with us until the last grandchild in our care walks across the high school (maybe college) commencement stage. So while we participate in the game, create your own activity list, grab the grand kids and start enjoying the sport. Here are a few suggestions I found:
- Enjoy a seaside trip
- Spend time in nature
- Teach them how to play chess (my grandson is getting very good at it)
- Go on adventures
- Share the family lineage - create a scrapbook
- Bake something together
- Picnic in the park
- Participate in a mile walk/fun run
- Perform a random act of kindness together
The sky really is the limit because this is an EXTREME sport. Take some risks together. Live life as aggressively (but safely) as possible. Your grandchild may have many issues they are dealing with and life comes at all of us very fast, so take control. We are the legacy leaders for our grandchildren. We have to push past the pains of the immediate and live for the promises of the permanent. So grab your gear and get in the game. You only have one life. Live it to the fullest and trust God to make it a great success.
Allow the English teacher in me to close out this article by going back to the opening check list. All of those extreme sports end with "ing" so the noun has become an action verb - that means it is time for the person, place or thing to get up and DO SOMETHING...you and your grandchildren will be glad you did!