Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

QUESTION: What is it like to have a “teen” grandchild; is it difficult or is it fun?

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Gramma’s Answer:

Having a teen grandchild is fun.  The teenage years are times when young people start to explore and discover who they are, what’s different or the same between them and their family, and what they might want to do with their life.  It’s a time to begin feeling what it is to be independent.  Anyone who’s emotionally healthy and intellectually curious keeps growing all through life, and the teen years are really when the journey starts.

The difficult part of watching a teen grow happens if the teen makes rash decisions that can make the future darker—like teens who experiment with drugs, pregnancy, or hurtful relationships.   A grandparent feels terrible watching someone they love dearly suffer through unhappiness.  They want to swoop in like a superhero and protect the grandchild, but that isn’t possible.  They can only hope the teen talks with someone who has lived more experiences before they make the decision in the first place.  Older people aren’t necessarily smarter, but we have a different view looking back on everything we’ve already seen or done.  We wish we could save the younger people we love from our mistakes and misunderstandings.

Of course, we all have to endure bad times, even if we try hard not to do anything hurtful.  Life is a path with rocky spots—where we can learn fast if we pay attention.  It’s strange, but bad times are good teachers.  For example, being lonely teaches us the value of friends; being angry teaches us how much better it feels to cooperate; being hurt teaches us to be kind to others.  Even some of the worst decisions can be fixed with a lot of courage and determination.  Patches are strong—sometimes stronger than the original life path–but they aren’t the same.

One thing I learned as I grew up was that movies, television, and books are often written by people who are living unhappy lives, so if you try to copy the romances and adventures they describe, you end up confused and disappointed.  Famous people are almost never as happy as they look.  Good looks aren’t the same as a good heart.  Even the best people have ugly days.  The worst people may seem funny, sexy, or exciting, but they make the world feel nasty.  Popularity is like pimples; it comes and goes.

Becoming a person who makes you happy is hard work.  The journey is slightly different for each person in each time.  It’s your journey—one that never ends.  You just keep changing.

Being a grandparent of a teen is like watching a beautiful plant grow.  You take care of it the best you can and hope it grows tall and healthy.  You hope it keeps blossoming and creating delicious fruit—making the world around it better.  Now and then, a branch is killed by bad weather or bugs or disease, but you try to support the plant through whatever comes so that it goes on to be a huge bush or tree or whatever it can be.  You want the plant to be able to take care of itself one day.  A grandparent is support to both grandkids and their parents.  Being a grandparent of a teen is a fun, difficult gift.

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