Reflecting on Blessings of A "Grand Watershed" This National Grandparents Week
By Allan Shedlin
Grampsy and Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group
In the past month, I have experienced what has felt like a quadruple "grand watershed." It has been a time when two grandchildren have launched careers based on their passions, one has begun a graduate internship which has reinforced her commitment to a career trajectory that cements her dedication to a life of service, and one has discovered his “calling.”
It has resulted in an exuberant period of granddaddying delight and joy – and yes, pride in witnessing the first steps on paths that have the potential of making our world better by a factor of four.
As I have been able to talk with these grandchildren (20-25 years old) on a “professional, collegial basis," I have been reminded that familial relationships are dynamic and evolve, and we have the opportunity to evolve and grow along with them.
As I think back a quarter century to the dawn of my grandparenting, I vividly remember my thoughts as I tried to imagine what it would be like to take on a new role. How might it be different from my parenting role, how might my relationships with my daughters – the mothers of my grandchildren – and my sons-in-law change? I laugh at myself when I imagined that grandparenting might mean that my intense parenting days would be supplanted. Yes, it does seem funny in hindsight as my parenting continues in a changed and changing context.
Of course, as a lifelong educator I ask myself what new questions may arise and lessons might be learned. Here are just a few:
In families (and outside of them!), we usually are presented a series of choices regarding how we respond to changing relationships and circumstances – a) they present the choice to hold ever tighter to the status quo or to embrace a new and unknown order; b) to recognize that just as we may see our maturing grandchildren in a new light, they may see us in a new light as well; and c) we can recognize the opportunity it provides to recalibrate our parenting relationships.
This new stage of our grandchildren’s lives provides a recognition that as their lives begin new chapters, our lives get ever closer to final chapters – how do we choose to recognize, acknowledge, and prepare for/deal with that reality.
It is important to appreciate the many blessings that have accompanied these lives and not take them for granted.
And we ponder if it’s “alright” to feel a sense of pride and exuberant delight in recognizing the good heartedness of these four grandchildren in whose life you have had the opportunity to play an active role.
Well, ponder no more. The answer to that last one is HELL YES!
You may not have realized it but Sunday, September 11, also was National Grandparents Day, which falls each year on the Sunday after Labor Day. But to be sure it gets its due, we at the Daddying blog hope you are enjoying a full grandparents week of love and connection – Daddy/granddaddy on!
Allan Shedlin has devoted his life’s work to improving the odds for children and families. He has three daughters, and five grandchildren, as well as numerous "bonus" sons/daughters and grandchildren. Trained as an educator, Allan has alternated between classroom service, school leadership, parenting coaching, policy development, and advising at the local, state, and national levels. After eight years as an elementary school principal, Allan founded and headed the National Elementary School Center for 10 years. In the 1980s, he began writing about education and parenting for major news outlets and education trade publications, as well as appearing on radio and TV. In 2008, he was honored as a "Living Treasure" by Mothering Magazine and founded REEL Fathers in Santa Fe, NM, where he now serves as president emeritus. In 2017, he founded the DADvocacy Consulting Group. In 2018, he launched the DADDY Wishes Fund and Daddy Appleseed Fund. In 2019, he co-created and began co-facilitating the Armor Down/Daddy Up! and Mommy Up! programs. He has conducted daddying workshops in such diverse settings as Native American pueblos, veterans groups, nursery schools, penitentiaries, Head Start centers, corporate boardrooms, and various elementary schools, signifying the widespread interest in men in becoming the best possible dad. In 2022, Allan founded and co-directed the inaugural Daddying Film Festival to enable students, dads, and other indie filmmakers to use film as a vehicle to communicate the importance of fathers or father figures in each others' lives. Allan earned his elementary and high school diplomas from NYC’s Ethical Culture Schools, BA at Colgate University, MA at Columbia University’s Teachers College, and an ABD at Fordham University. But he considers his D-A-D and GRAND D-A-D the most important “degrees” of all.