The cross : Are there any mistakes you shouldn’t make when you become a grandparent?
Catherine Bergeret-Amselek: We don’t talk much about it, and yet we have to be careful when our children tell us that they are expecting a child! Sometimes it is a shock, the future grandparent does not always expect it, he is sent back to his own parenthood. Is he ready to assume this place? He may not be very enthusiastic! However, this announcement is very important for the child who is no longer one.
The future parents expect validation from their parents, a kind of guidance but at the right distance. That is why, even if the grandparents are worried, have a doubt about the ability of the young couple to take care of the child, they should keep their worries to themselves, express their joy and congratulate the couple.
However, it is not always easy at a time when new family models confuse us. Some adults are greatly shaken by their children’s choices and their education methods. Giving your opinion without giving the impression of judging requires tact. On the other hand, it will always be possible, without ever discrediting the parents, to set customs for the grandparents which will be different from those in force for the parents. But it’s up to everyone to use their common sense and adapt according to their own context.
Does having a grandchild help you come to terms with your own old age?
CB-A. : It all depends on the circumstances, on the age at which you become a grandparent, but in general, yes, this great event in life brings a lot of emotion and impatience. Moreover, it is no longer an experience perceived as linked to old age, but to a certain renewal. It has been a long time since “grandpa” and “grandma” disappeared to make way for affectionate, less formal names: grandma, grandpa, granny, pilou, milou, etc.
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This fantasy is a way of not getting locked into a label that looks old and also shows a willingness to invent a role as one pleases, without reproducing the model of previous generations: grandmothers bake fewer cakes. but talk through Zoom with their grandchildren! Grandfathers discover a whole range of emotions with their grandchildren, sometimes they make up for it and are better grandfathers than they were fathers for lack of time.
Also, even if becoming a grandparent is one more stone on the road to aging, it is precious: it means that the lineage continues and the transmission by the same fact. This event therefore represents a passing experience: one climbs a rung on the generation ladder and the torch is passed on to subsequent generations. It’s a lovely prospect to grow old watching your grandchildren grow up.