OPINION: Why We Need Grandparents

Let me start by saying that this post is incredibly biased. I was privileged enough to have relationships with all of my grandparents and was fortunate enough to know two of of my great-grandparents. I spent the majority of my formative years living with my paternal grandmother and grandfather. As a young boy, I used to tag along with Big Momma (my maternal grandmother) as she went to the homes of her friends. As a result, I learned about respect and the value of caring for the elderly.

That’s why I chose to write this blog post.

My wife and I were talking recently about how our kids, unfortunately, won’t get to experience the joy of being with their grandparents like we did. They will never know the joys of being in “the country” for the summer or learning the lessons we learned growing up. Due to financial, health, and geographical limitations, it is incredibly difficult for our children get the quality time with their grandparents that we had as kids. We are working hard to build relationships that will help us fill that void in our children’s lives.

Below are three reasons why I believe that grandparents are a gift from above:

Grandparents are the best storytellers!
Family history is important because it influences who are and how we go about do some of the things we do. In some families, the history is passed down through the telling of stories. Who better to tell these tells (and sometimes myths) than the grandparents who received this knowledge from previous generations (and added their own flavor to it). Some of my favorite moments as a kid were sitting in my grandmother’s living room and listening to her and my great aunts tell stories about our family (while shelling peas). It was through those stories that I learned about the kind of man my great-grandfather was. It’s because of those stories that I came to understand why education is so important to our family. These are the stories that we tell our own children and, who knows, maybe they will tell them to our grandchildren.

It’s also through the telling of stories that we come to understand that grandparents are also masters of the exaggerational arts! Think about it, how many of your elders (at church, in your family, or in your neighborhood) have told a story that left you wondering if that was true or not. One of my elder cousins used to tell the story of how he cooked meals for previous U.S. presidents. That same relative would also brag about Dennis Haysbert (the Allstate guy…not Mayhem”) being his student while he taught at Stanford (a recent Google search showed that Dennis actually attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts).

Grandparents are wise!
Super cliché, right? But if you think about it, our grandparents have been around a LONG time! My grandfather will be 93 years old next month. That’s almost a century! That means Papa has over 90 years of successes, mistakes, joy, pain, life lessons, and accumulated wisdom that he can pass on. This is why I love talking to grandparents. They can say so much without saying much at all. They recognize the value of time and won’t waste time saying things they don’t really mean (which can be good and bad).

If need wisdom, grandparents aren’t a bad place to start.

Grandparents throw the best shade!
Nothing makes me laugh harder than grandparents who are unfiltered. That’s why I love spending time with the elderly. If they don’t approve of something, they will make it known. If you have questions about something you’re wearing, let grandma’s facial reaction be the gauge. GQ recently did an interview with Quincy Jones and the 86 year old music icon did not hold back! Uncle Q talked about everything from his troublesome upbringing to spilling the tea about other celebrities’ sexual activity. I don’t think all grandparents have stories like Quincy Jones. I do know that if you want to be entertained, ask your grandparents about how your parents were as kids. You won’t be disappointed!

If you are fortunate to still have your grandparents around, take a moment to show them some love and listen to what they have to say. You may be surprised, entertained, and enlightened as a result of the interaction.