Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Grandparents are People


It is difficult to remember that grandparents are people.  They were parents who have much experience, people who have lived a long life, who have lived the good and the bad as well as time in between.  They know what to expect when problems occur and what their place in the family will be.  They are always a bit surprised when they are ignored or left out for much that occurs in  life.  They are shielded or omitted from certain situations and unexpected calamities.  They are treated as if serious illnesses or “happenings” have no place for them.  They are frequently “protected” from serious situations and later accused of being uncaring, unloving imbeciles.  They have determined that the “old folks” don’t care without looking at reality.  When calmness and peace, or lack thereof, occurs, they are accused of lack of caring, being heartless and unreliable, even though the accusers have left them out of the situation from which they were deliberately excluded.

These people were once young, experienced much in their lives, and handled many problems and occurrences that happened and in which they were responsible, accessible, and capable.

The younger generation, their children and grandchildren, believe they are protecting their elders from having to be a part of a given misfortune and have much experience to be of assistance and help in their way, including having the satisfaction of making things better as much as is possible.  They love their children, and want always to be a part of the family and to do what they can to make things a bit better, in whichever way they are able.

Grandparents have lived the good and the not so good in life.  They have years of experience and need the control to add to the help that is possible for them to offer or not, as they are able or feel able to do.

Let the younger generation remember that grandparents are people, with experience, with minds, with abilities, with feelings.  They can and should be given the opportunity to decide what they want to think or do.  They know what responsibilities they have and what they can offer to do or otherwise.  No other person, family members or others should decide what a grandparent can, will, or cannot do.


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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