-Changing Roles…and the confusion of it all!

Recently I the great honor of talking with a very wise, loving parent of a client of mine. He was her father who was in spirit and yet his guidance was profound not only to my client, but to myself. (A side benefit to doing my type of work).

The “insight” that we gained on that early Sunday morning hit home for me, because I was seeing friends and family around me that were also in the same situation as my client.

I asked my client if I could use this “wisdom” for an article on my blog and she gave me approval, so I hope those that need to “see” on this topic are able to let it in.  And if you know anyone that might need this, please pass it on.

For ease of reading, we will call my client, Alice and her father, Dad.

Alice’s Dad joined us and brought up this topic on his own, (and I later found out that he brought up this topic to her when he was still alive).

Dad was excited for Alice to be in this new transition in her life.  Alice’s daughter was getting married at the end of the week, and it was a very happy occasion for all.  He talked about how excited he was to be coming to the event also.

Dad parlayed this celebration talk into the fact that she was moving into a new phase of her life (empty nester) and talked about her role as a Grandparent.  He said “Getting the distance and reaping the benefits”.

(Alice is a grandparent with one grand-daughter and she takes care of her on a daily basis. And is very happy about this situation.)

Dad told Alice, “That in way too many levels you are parenting still with your grand-daughter, and that is not where you are to be at this point in your life.  You are taking up the parenting that the parents should be doing!”

He wanted me to be blunt with her, he said, “You are interfering, your intent is not to hurt, but by taking on these roles of parenting, you are not allowing these young parents to learn to do it. So you are interfering in the process.”

Dad lovingly said, “Because you are still playing out the parenting role, you are missing out on the true gift of being the Grandparent! You think your helping, but because you are still “parenting” you CAN’T be the true Grandparent the way you should be.”

He went on, “You are not able to parent YOUR children from a new prospective.  You need to help them to become good parents.  They need your input.  So you are losing out here, and our children are losing out on having an adult parent parenting them as adults.  Your adult children are going through major struggles, and transitions and they would really like the input from a mutually respected adult, but you don’t have the energy (or distance from the situation) because you are doing the basic parenting for your grand-child.  So they lose out too.

The grand-child is also losing out, because she NEEDS her own parents to parent her and she can’t have a grandma because your too busy being a parent, because you are not really in the role of being her Grandma!  You can’t do both roles…not really.”

At this point, I was inspired by her Dad to add my own experience here in the reading…

“I had the most amazing Grandma. She was completely crazy but I wouldn’t give up my crazy Grandma for nobody!   She’s the one I ran too, she was my soft place to fall, for I knew- no matter what, she love me above everything and would protect me but she had distance from me.  She wasn’t raising me and parenting me, but she was firmly in my grandparent role.  Nobody to this day, some 30 years later, could ever take her place in my heart.  That is strictly my Grandmothers place.  But I don’t think that because of the way that your currently doing it, your grand-daughter will have those same feelings for you, she will have very MOTHERLY feelings and that a different feeling then a GRANDMOTHER feelings.  All because your parenting her.”

Alice’s Dad jumped back in and said, “You really feeling that your doing the best for everyone but your really doing it for YOU! (even if they APPEAR to be “Helping them”)  We all do! We put our needs above other peoples needs; your need is to be totally infused in someones life.  When your children grew up, you had a great loss in that area of your life. And when you had your grand-daughter, you pulled her to you.  You made it easy to let the young parents to lean on you, to allow you to do this and it’s not a healthy thing.”

He said, “ I need to be blunt with you, you have known a lot of these things (about this situation) but it hurt you too much to make any changes. I told you. I know how you think, “Well, it’s only a short time”, you have raised children, you know that she’ll become a teenager and it’s “only a short time”….but this is a very profound time!  And your children are not learning to be parents properly.”

I said, “Your Dad wants you to understand in a way that you can see what your doing, because you will be having more grandchildren and you can’t keep doing this, it will be harder.  For one, you can already seeing that you can’t do certain things the way you did before, your getting older…he’s trying to save you a lot of pain in the future. Plus you should allow your adult children to learn to be parents while you’re still here to give them the guidance they will need….isn’t that better then them trying to learn it themselves when your gone?

Alice said, “I get it Dad!”

Dad replied, “I really want you to enjoy being a Grandparent and you have not had that yet. I want you to have that immense relationship.  And you are not having the life that you should be having at this junction, at this point in your life because your are still be a parent!

Dad then went on to say, ” Soon her daughter would be having a baby.  And there will be a lot of jealousy from your daughter, because you are not being as “involved” like you did with your first grand-child. UNLESS you start to make boundaries and place the parenting role firmly back in the hands of the parents.”

My client, Alice, had a very clear and direct “parenting lesson” from her father.  It was blunt and to the point, and being the voice to what Dad had to say – stung me at some points as I’m sure it stung her.  But it was said so lovingly and tender, it did NOT come out as a scolding, but very clear insight from one adult parent to another.

Even in Death, our parents are still looking out for us.

Thank you Dad and Alice for allowing me to share this important lesson for parents and Grandparents everywhere.


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