• Growing up, I have fond memories of walking over to my grandma’s house, every day after school, and spending a few hours with her until one of my parents picked me up after work. What really stuck out for me, was how modestly she lived and how she rarely wore or bought herself anything new. She gave everything she could, and then some, to her children and grandchildren, who always came first. It was great to feel that loved, but as nice as she was, I remember wanting to see her being pampered, simply because she deserved it. However, she would never have any of that. Even when people gave her gifts, she would tuck them away in her closet, with the intent of re-gifting it to someone else. A little extreme, but she always said that she got more pleasure from giving than receiving.

    Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like the grandparents of today are nothing like our grandparents of old. The following generalizations are just that—generalizations. They may not accurately depict all modern-day grandparents since age, socio-economic class, life experience and of course culture, all play a major role in each persons development. So, here are my observations of the differences between grandparents then and now;

    Then: You could stop by anytime you wanted, even unannounced, and they were happy to see you.
    Now: All visitations need to be scheduled in advance and they place time limits on childcare.
    Then: They gave you parenting advice and happily disciplined your child, even in front of you.
    Now: They dare not discipline your child but give you advice, suggesting a mental health referral, and then tell you that they never had these problems with you when you were a child (just a little dig).
    Then: They spent little on themselves and family was their life.
    Now: They still love family, but have a life of their own and take care of themselves first.
    Then: Always had food ready in case anyone stopped by (enough to feed an infantry unit).
    Now: They make exactly enough food for the number of expected guests (that’s if you don’t ask for seconds) and you’re on your own if you didn’t make reservations in advance.
    Then: Would send you home with bags of groceries anytime you came to visit and never let you leave empty handed.
    Now: They call you with a list of things they need you to bring.
    Then: Lent you money without any questions, and even offered it to you before you had to ask, with an unspecified time-frame to pay them back.
    Now: They tell you to talk to their accountant to see if you’re qualified to burrow the money from them and even charge you for the interest.
    Then: If you saw something that you liked at their house, it was yours or you could borrow it for as long as you’d like.
    Now: They expect you to return anything that you borrowed in a timely manner or they tell you where you can go to buy one just like it.
    Then: They were proud that you stayed home and focused on your family.
    Now: Encourage parents to “do more” with their lives and emphasize the importance of boy parents having their own career.

    It’s funny because I remember telling my grandmother to focus more on taking care of herself and to do less for others. However, she could never do it. Family always came first. It raised the bar and skewed my expectations of how much a person should sacrifice of themselves. Yes, it felt great to have someone who was willing to give you the shirt off their back but not at the expense of taking care of themselves. Now when I look at the current generation of grandparents, who corrected a lot of the previous generations’ flaws, I’m not sure if the pendulum has swung too far. I try not to complain about what modern day grandparents are lacking and instead focus on their good qualities to appreciate what they can give. After all, everyone should take care of themselves first and deserves to have a life of their own, which often comes at the expense of being less available to assist others (with childcare, finances and all around availability). For me, a blend of both old school and modern day grandparents is the way to go. Hopefully, We can all find that balance, of being available for our family, while not losing sight of ourselves in the process.