Grandparenting: How to Meet Its Responsibilities
by Godfrey Harris
The Americas Group

"Grandparents, by virtue of what they have seen and done throughout their lives, represent an important community resource."

Author and public policy consultant Harris offers examples, suggestions, and strategies for the older generation to share its wisdom and perspective with the younger. He asserts that grandparents, coming from times very different from those that the grandchildren experience, have a personal and social responsibility to express and exemplify broader perspectives of societal and community values. Many "lessons" are situational. Grandparents can share their understanding of what is appropriate in specific circumstances. For example, suppose a child rushes to exit an elevator ahead of a man using a walker or a woman carrying a load of paperwork. In that case, that child needs to be shown by discussion and practice what constitutes more sensitive, thoughtful, and compassionate action. Many such problematic scenarios—at a funeral, in the hotel, and the like—are presented, with solutions suggested, along with twenty-six techniques enumerated and elucidated to help elders give necessary social guidance to youngsters.

Harris has written copiously on many social, business, and cultural issues and here presents a salutary reminder to older people to take on the cloak of wisdom for the benefit of their children's children (or any younger family members). He carefully refrains from offering advice to those grandparents who have been given the role of full-time parenting, as that requires many more and very different responsibilities. He expertly addresses such issues as the changing legal definitions of parenthood and contributions that great-grandparents can make. For the elders who have contact with grandchildren—by visits, or from a greater distance—he helpfully suggests a variety of lively, personal, and sometimes amusing methods to infuse the youngsters, often rigidly scheduled and duty-bound, with the ideals of a more timeless viewpoint. Harris's wide-ranging advice will engage his older readers with practical ideas for the next visit, letter, or Zoom session with younger family members.

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