Five things I’ve learned from my now adult grandchildren

Grandparents and teens sit on bridge in a forest

Image: monkeybusinessimages/

I’m a grandparent and the scary thing is that I have two adult grandchildren. Where did the time go? Twin boys; they’re about to turn 20.

Proud? Absolutely. But I will spare you the photos and most of the stories about these magnificent individuals—unless you have an hour or so to spare.

However, I’ve learned a lot from my adult grandchildren.

1. It takes time to develop a relationship

One of my regrets is that for seven years we lived too far away for regular contact. We shifted back to within a couple of hours from them but now, a few years later, they’re working in another state.

I still enjoy hanging out with them. They still laugh at my grandpa jokes—probably not as enthusiastically. They help me with my digital equipment—one of them grabbed my phone a couple of years ago, took a selfie, and that’s what I saw every time I turned my phone on.

It was replaced a few weeks ago when my other two grandchildren (aged 13 and 15) replaced it with their photo.

We have good conversations together. Even though I’m not big in their social world, they allow me to be a part of their world. It’s a warm relationship.

2. The relationship changes with time

There’s not a lot of crawling around on the floor with them now, but that’s an early memory.

What started out with baby talk has now turned into deeper things. Their jobs and what they’re attempting to do; their friends (one has a girlfriend); even the presidency of Donald Trump!

It has been a delight to watch them become the people they are. There’s some growing to do yet, but then I’ve noticed I still have some of that to do as well.

3. Love is bigger than stupid

Have they done stupid things? Yes. Have I? Yes. A good relationship is bigger than stupid acts that may have caused pain. Love is bigger than stupid.

4. Scary is worth doing together

We weren’t exactly excited by the thought when we said we would help them learn to drive. In fact, we made sure our insurance covered us and them—just in case.

There were no accidents, but there were a few scary moments—particularly at the beginning. The benefit for us as grandparents was that we were alone in the cars (two boys means two cars) and the conversation went all over the place. It was a good way to really get to know their thinking.

They’re safe drivers now, but we were a part of that learning experience with them.

5. The future?

We have no idea what’s going to happen in the future, but we know that these young men have a fairly level-headed approach to life. We’re proud of who they are (I may have mentioned that already) and we look forward to who they will become.

Hopefully, we can be a part of whatever it is—wherever it is.

What does this have to do with retirement?

If you’re thinking about retirement, you have some years to your life. The possibility is that you’re a grandparent. For most, grandparenting is a joy—and something that is a natural part of your retirement plan.

OK, let’s admit that, for some, grandparenting may be a chore if you’re the everyday babysitter so their parents can go to work.

Mostly, though, it can bring you a sense of satisfaction and involvement—and it can also help your grandchildren. ‘Grandparents are a positive force for all families,’ says a report by the American Psychological Association.

Grandparents ‘play a significant role in families undergoing difficulties. They can reduce the negative influence of parents separating and be a resource for children who are going through these family changes’.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be a positive force in my grandchildren’s lives—and yes, I could tell you a lot about my other grandchildren, but I suspect you don’t have the time.

Bruce Manners: the author of Retirement Ready?, Refusing to Retire, and founder of

Category: Connecting, Legacy

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