Raising My Grandchild: Looking at Myself Through My Grandson’s Eyes

Posted July 22, 2010 by

Today is my birthday and I am an old lady. It has taken me two decades to admit this. I remember being indignantly upset when I heard a reporter refer to a 56-year-old woman as “elderly.” Why, I was older than that and I certainly wasn’t elderly! But somewhere along the way, getting up off the floor changed from a thoughtless and largely effortless process to an event, carefully planned and executed. I became more “settled”; both mentally and physically. I am not a pretty young mother who plays softball and tag or jumps spryly in and out of go-carts, boats or tree houses.

Why am I bringing this up? Because we grandparents who have grandchildren living with us need to take a few minutes once in awhile to stand where those kids are and take an unbiased look at ourselves through their eyes. Especially if those eyes have not been exposed to multiple generations as is the case with many modern families. To these children their grandparents might as well have come off one of the Roswell UFO’s. Or they may be viewed as having grown up on dinosaur steaks. (I have been accused of both!) In my forties I recklessly enrolled in a drawing class at the local University where I was roundly ignored by the “traditional” students. Trying to break the ice I made a bantering remark to a young man at the next easel about crayons. Cornered in this fashion he turned to study me and tried to find some common ground. Finally, he said, “What were crayons like when you were young?”

Our grandson Coby came to live with us when he was seven months old and I don’t think he realized there was anything different about us until he entered school. Then the kids started asking the difficult questions:
“Why is you mother so OLD?  Where is your real mom? Why don’t you live with her?” He began to see himself as “different” and inferior to the other children. It took me awhile to realize that I was at the root of his problem. I finally took him to some meetings of a local group called Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Everyone brings their children, who are given a meal of pizza and a large gymnasium in which to run it off while under the supervision of some wonderful young people.  One night a month can’t undo the daily bumps, but at least he knows that he is not alone in his misfortune!

I do with Coby what I still am able to do: go fishing, walking (I no longer glorify it as hiking), bicycling, and I serve as interested spectator and cheerleader for whatever is trying to master:  skateboard, skiing, trick riding or a new game. While he may not have a co- participant, he knows that he can rely on my time and my presence and my interest. This is very important to any child. Truth be told, I find him more absorbing than any of the things I thought I wanted to do when I retired.


Parent Blogger “Gigi” has a PhD in physiology and taught entering nursing students for many years. She is the mother of four and is currently raising her 9-year-old grandson, Coby.

Popular on Empowering Parents

Reader Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Empowering Parents Coach Rebecca Wolfenden, 1-on-1 Coach Report

    To grammadeb: Thank you for writing in and sharing your comments. We certainly understand that raising your adolescent granddaughters can be a challenge at times, and it is important to get support for yourself. We hope that you find the support you need from our articles here on EP. Good luck and we wish you and your family the best.

  2. grammadeb (Edit) Report

    I too am a 61 yr gramma raising my twin g-daughters who are now 13. They went to live with Mom the past 6 mths…from the fish bowl to the shark tank,the experience was traumatic as well as a reality that Mom isn’t what or who they wanted her/hoped she would be. Would love to share strenth and hope with other g-parents raising g-children. Nobody understands like you and i need to vent. How can i make this happen?

  3. cinchebug (Edit) Report

    I am also raising my grandson since the day the earth was blessed by his birth.he is my oldest daughters second of three.although my daughter is in his life there are so many days that i see confusion in his eyes. i talk to him and try to clarify all his concerns but he is going to be seven next month and things just seem to be a little more different now.i have alot of emotion when it comes to him because i realize the struggle hes going to have when he grows.it is hard starting over again but i know in my heart that if i had to make the decision all over again i would not hesitate to do it.he is my world and i just pray for the best for him.my daughter was a young new mom and which of course made me a young grandmother at 35.
    Ijust wanna say to you that i commend you and feel how you feel,I pray for gods blessings on you for your love for your grandchild….

  4. Pastor Pam (Edit) Report

    I just found this site as we just got our 6mos soon to be seven month old grandson. He is joy but lots of work for us. We were about to be empty nesters. Well change of plans heading towards kinship share and thinking about blogging about the process.

  5. Carole Banks (Edit) Report

    Dear Grandma:

    Begin by remembering James Lehman’s teaching that we are each responsible for our own choices. You want your young grandson to be personably held accountable for choosing to talk-back to you and choosing to disobey you. Regardless of what his older brother or his friends might do, he’s not allowed to break the rules. For this reason, the 18 year old is not responsible for what his younger sibling does and should not be asked to move out because of the youngest child’s behavior. Therefore, when you talk to your 18 year old about leaving, do not tell him it’s because his influence caused the younger child to act out. Instead, tell him it seems clear that he feels ready to make his own decisions and is unwilling to modify his behavior while living with you, so perhaps its time he looks into living on his own.

  6. Grandmamommy (Edit) Report

    Dear Gigi and readers,

    I am raising my 6 1/2 yr old grandson. Since he was 19 mo. he has lived in my home with his Mom in and out. My daughter served 6 mo. in jail and afterwards did a rehab program for her meth addicition. She earned the right to have her children back when James was 4 1/2. She relapsed after a couple months and after 10 months became homeless. I ended up caring for James and eventually fought for and was awarded guardianship. Things were great until his older brother came back to live with me at age 17, he is now 18 and just graduated H.S. The influence of this older boy has changed my sweet boy into a child who
    disobeys and talks back. I love my older grandson but I would like him to move out his little brother would miss him even tho he doesn’t interact with him that much. Can anyone coach me on how to phrase the talk to ask him to leave my home without forever damaging our relationship?

    Grandma (age 62)

  7. redhead1 (Edit) Report

    Thank you for your eloquent words and faithful spirit. Your actions are the definition of real love. I said a prayer for you and Coby.

  8. Renate (Edit) Report

    Dear Gigi,bless your heart you would be amazed how many granparents raise their grandchildren including myself.I have raised 3 of 13 ever sinse they was born ,which the oldest just turned 17,15 and 11.There was a Website that I used many years ago,Granparentsraisinggrandchildren.com It helped alot as they was growing up.But when puperty set in I had to get serious help and I found this goldminD.but you are right I had to step back sometime and wonder how they see me.They call me old fashion while their friends love me and think Im cool.They talk back which my kids never did and I cry from a broken heart everyday.In my old age Im more layed back and trusting and things that where on the top of my kid raising list is pretty much on the bottom.But the important things I will not allow in my house is disrespect for me or my rules.Going to church and school and scouts are not ever options.Believe me this world today did not leave us much goodness to raise these precious babies in.Me too could write a whole series of books of the life of the kids and us go thru.We struggle just as we did with our children and there is still no help for us fiancially.We just do the best we can with all the help from above.Continue in your journey with great joy because one day they will see your love was real.

  9. Richard Edgeworth (Edit) Report

    Thank you Gigi for your insightful message. I’m a 62 y/y single father of my beautiful 9 y/o son, Hunter. He tells me he gets teased a lot at school about “who’s the old man?” which causes misbehavior. Coming from a disfunctional, fractured family myself, I’m at a loss as to the best way to help him work through it.

  10. Betty (Edit) Report

    We are grandparents raising two grandchildren. What is desperately needed is a site where someone who has experienced the reality of raising grandchildren has a place to go and discuss what some children actually go through and their reactions. For example: Being everything that you indicated a grandparent should be and when that doesn’t work – get the needed counseling – when that doesn’t work – what then? We, as grandparents,have gone way and above anything you have mentioned and our grandchildren still believe we do not understand the children in today’s world and how old we really are. When I say everything that we could do – has been done. Loving, going to a christian school, church, being baptized, attending and more importantly, participating in their activities. They expressed, very nicely, that they simply do not want to live with us because they do not care for the rules we instill in our home. They are just to old fashioned. You know, the rule where I need to know who they are spending their time with – know the parents before they go to that friend’s home, etc….. Where did we make our mistake. It seems to be that we agreed to allow the children to continue to see their mother as long as she was sober, not on drugs, and was under supervision. Both children did know their mother and this was one of the agreements which allowed us to adopt these two children at the age of 4 and 5. I could go on and on but I am sure you get just what grandparents can and do go through. It is not all roses – and all things are not resolved by doing what you know is right. Thanks for reading this – one day – I might write a book for grandparents.

  11. Elisabeth Wilkins, EP Editor (Edit) Report

    Gigi, thank you for this wonderful post. I have so much admiration for you and other grandparents who are raising grandkids. I think your point is a good one — looking at yourself through your child’s eyes is one way of understanding what they are going through. The most important thing is that it sounds like Coby is being raised in a loving home, regardless of whether or not you can skateboard!



Join our NEW Total Transformation® Learning Center!

Practical, affordable parenting help starting at $14.95/month BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!

Empowering Parents is the leading online resource for child behavior help


Parent Coaching Sessions

7.5 Million

Global Visitors

10+ Years

Helping Families