Qualities That Make a Grandparent into a Saint

Photo by Patrick Garrington
Photo by Patrick Garrington | Source

The word “saint” has a variety of meanings. Here, it refers specifically to someone whose life merits the highest honor.

While grandchildren may not be interested in canonization, some regard their grandparents with utmost respect. They summarize their feelings with statements like “My grandmother is a saint,” or “I have a saint for a grandfather.”

In recent years, grandparents are becoming even more saintly. According to a 2010 study reported by Amy Goyer in AARP Magazine, grandparents have replaced parents as heads of household for 4.9 million American children under age 18, and the numbers increase every year. In the Caribbean, many children from teenage parents are raised by grandparents.

There is also the The Granny Nanny Phenomenon in which grandparents become live-in nannies to help raise the grandchildren and cut the cost of living for both parents and grandparents. In such multigenerational households, grandparents become a fixed dimension in the family unit with endless opportunity to enjoy and influence the grandchildren.

From personal experience and the many stories of grandparents’ saintly performances, here are some observations concerning the qualities that make a grandparent into a saint-- at least, in the grandchildren’s opinions.


Veteran Parents

Becoming a grandmother is wonderful. One moment you're just a mother. The next you are all-wise and prehistoric. - Pam Brown

Grandparents tend to receive more reverence from the grandchildren than from their own children. The grandchildren see them as old and (if rightly influenced by the parents) they learn to respect age. Grandparents are accepted as honorable and wise. They are expected to know the answers to all the questions and to be fair in their judgments.

Grandchildren admire grandparents for having authority over their parents. Grandparents in their twenties and thirties are limited in the experience; they have to learn to establish their position without the veteran parent qualification.


Photo by Wendell Weithers
Photo by Wendell Weithers | Source

Love Tanks

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. - Rudolph Giuliani

Grandparents' love tanks are always full. They are the ones whose eyes light up at the sight of the grandchildren. They are forgetful and forgiving about the misdeeds of the youngsters. They use terms of endearment, and prophetic titles. What grandchild does not remember a name or an affectionate phrase that came regularly from a grandparent’s lips?

As for accepting love, grandparents they border on fanaticism. A toddler’s attempt to say grandma comes up in every conversation for a week; a preschooler’s drawing of grandma and grandpa gets the prime spot in the family room. Almost every word and gesture are evidence of the grandchild’s love, and this kind of acceptance makes the grandchild feel worthy.

Older grandparents are better at picking their battles when it comes to discipline. They know from experience that love, patience and kindness are gentler, more effective tools than angry scolding. They personify love for the grandchildren.


Mediators

The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. - Sam Levenson

Many grandchildren pray for the grandparents to see them through the years under their parents’ jurisdiction. They need trusting grandparents to help them relate how they got into trouble and to convince the unreasonable (their opinion) parents that their apology is sincere. They need understanding grandparents to help the insensitive (their opinion) parents see that their restrictions are too harsh. They foresee a difficult life without grandparents who are the mediators between youth just wanting to enjoy life and parents who see danger around every corner.

When wise grandparents get involved, they usually show the parents a more positive perspective while respecting their authority. Whenever the grandparent creates an effective strategy for compromise, the grandchildren know for sure that grandparents have a spiritual connection.


Supporters

Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children. - Alex Haley

Grandparents’ affirmation and commitment to support promote joy and confidence in their grandchildren’s hearts. What sacrifice the grandparents make to show up at ball games, recitals, graduations and weddings! The grandchildren feel honored when what they do is important enough to merit the approval and participation of the grandparents.

Much of my paternal grandmother’s support was financial. My father died when I was an infant, and his mother provided for my needs from infancy through my high school years. I remember her saying, “It doesn’t matter if I do not have it; if you need it, I’ll try my best to get it for you.” Those to me, are words of a saint.

My mother and I lived with her mother who was the single most influential person in my life. She was the person I most wanted to be like. Her spiritual posture and wisdom are still the qualities to which I aspire. Her continual affirmations and trust in me fed my sense of worth. The highest compliment I have ever received is from those who say that my words or deeds remind them of my grandmother. I’ve been blessed with two saints for grandmothers.


What's Special About Your Grandparent?

What have you specially enjoyed from a grandparent or grandparent figure?

See results without voting

Overcomers

"What a wonderful contribution our grandmothers and grandfathers can make if they will share some of the rich experiences and their testimonies with their children and grandchildren."
- Vaughn J. Featherstone

In most households, some parents are still struggling to become . . . and the children see in their struggle the difficulties of adulthood. They watch the parents shuffle bill payments while exerting great effort to keep the family functional. They would be encouraged to see how this side of parenting pays off.

Meanwhile the older grandparents tell stories of how they persevered until life became more manageable. They are heroes in causes they supported. They tell how they have overcome as individuals or as part of a team. They point to structures they helped to build and laws they helped to change. They have made their marks and received awards. They offer a challenge to the grandchildren to do something similar or to continue what they started. Because of the grandparents’ stories of overcoming, the children understand that there is reward for their parents’ labors, and will eventually be for theirs.

Grandparents are the proof that life is worth the struggle; and that it is possible to progress to the stage where pride, joy and satisfaction enhance the portrait of family. They empower the grandchildren in ways only saints could.

© 2013 Dora Isaac Weithers

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37 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

I loved the title. The rest of the hub was a beautiful bonus. Well done, Dora!


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

The role of grandparents has certainly moved back to a place in time where multigenerational families lived together. As you've pointed out the many reasons for this shift to interdependence, I'm pleased to see that children have such a high regard for those who parent their parents. Reminds me in so many ways of the Waltons.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, billybuc. I appreciate your commendation.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Peg, according to the report, the number of multigerational families was on the decline until 2000. Apparently, it is on the rise again, thanks to economic hardship. In way, that's good for grandparents and grandchildren.


poetforlife profile image

poetforlife 3 years ago from Dallas, Texas.

Hi MsDora. Thank you for this article. My grandmother played such an important role in my life. She helped to raise me and took great care of me in my childhood years. She is one of the few people in my life that I knew without a doubt really really loved me. Great piece.


manatita44 profile image

manatita44 3 years ago from london

A truly deserving article. My own grandmother had so much inner beauty, so much self-giving ... you should reflect this in your poll. It's a little arbitrary.

The article itself is truly worthy of many grandparents all over the world. Alas! My own take is that perhaps because of a fast-paced life or other reasons, they seem to have become fewer. I could be wrong.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Hi MsDora,

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful hub here, as I am one of those grandparents! My son, at his young age of 19, made me a grandmother. I now have three grandchildren, two granddaughters three and five years old, and on grandson a little over six months old.

My son and his two daughters, before my grandson was born, came to live with us for 18 months.

Thinking back, I don't know how we did it, but we did it, with the grace of God.

I feel that love you write of here from my grandchildren, and I too, for them. There is just something extra special about the grands. We love our children, but it is hard to put into words until you experience it yourself.

The grandchildren are aware of that unconditional love and acceptance from a grandparent no matter what, and they know a grandparent will always be so thrilled in the least little thing the grandchild does.

I cannot imagine my life without them now!

Excellent hub here, full of truth no doubt.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

God bless you, Faith Reaper


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Poet, thanks for sharing. My experience is similar. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my grandmother loved me.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Manatita, thanks for your comment. Happy for you that you had a positive relationship with your grandmother. To a point, you're right about grandmothers becoming fewer; partly because children were moving away from the homestead when they started their families. Now the "granny nanny phenomenon" is bringing in grandparents to raise the grandchildren. With older people living longer, and fixed incomes remaining fixed, those older people need financial help. The new parents also need help to meet the cost of daycare. So, bring granny home. She pays no rent; her children pay no daycare.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Faith Reaper, when all the chips are down, the grace of God still works wonders regardless of the facts. So happy for you that you made it through. I understand your not being able to put love into words. I've only seen my grandson on skype and I feel an amazing love for him as well.


skye2day profile image

skye2day 3 years ago from Rocky Mountains

ms dora, Blessings dear sister. No matter the situation and many are far from ideal (what is ideal) grandchildren are a gift from God to behold. For me it has been an opportunity to expand on the learned knowledge from raising kids ( not so perfect )to loving my grandsons in the wisdom of Christ. Huge difference. With Christ all things are possible without Christ all is lost and in vain. The good news is God can turn ALL things for the good for those that love Him. When grandma or grandpa have the chance to share the love of Jesus and pass it on it is indeed a wonderful and blessed gift. The best gift we can share is Jesus and salvation. Grand parenting is not always easy but for the grace of God today I can ease up and enjoy the ride. Knowing all things work together for the good. Loving God is priceless and precious. In the grace of God I believe the grandsons see something in me. Trust me it is NOT I but the light of Him that is in me to help me. Just as He was by my side while raising daughters His grace abounds in grand parenting. It is easier than parenting for me because I know I do not have to do it perfect nor will I. This I know, Love Never Fails.

Praise God for grandmas. I did not know mine well. So if and when you are a grandma seize the opportunity. Do not let issues come between the relationship. I am so honored to have a chance to know my boys. Truly a gift. Grandma seize the time it is a gift!!! No time to waste. Enjoy and love grand babies. They will honor and love you for it into eternity.

Thank you ms dora for such a fine writing honoring grandma. Much Love to you sister. Hugs, Skye


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Skye, thanks very much for your contribution to this subject. I do have one grandson and I am still longing for the opportunity to meet him. I love him already.


Jynzly profile image

Jynzly 3 years ago from Marion, Indiana, USA

Very beautiful hub. I am a very loving and doting grandparent to my five wonderful grandchildren but I never had experienced having a grandparent in my whole life. My Dad and Mom were both parents and grandparents to me since they were already in the prime of their lives when I was born.

You are very lucky to have relished the love and joy of your grandmothers.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

My grandkids don't call me a saint, though they have said things like "Nana, I know you couldn't have ever done that, you're too good a Christian." Most of them know me as a bit zany. Max called me a cheese ball once when I was being silly. Grand parents raising children is so common now. funny how the kids they raised turned out so dysfunctional yet they do a good job raising the grands. Bless them all for what they do.

Has your grandchild been born yet Ms Dora?


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Interesting I don't have grandchildren as yet but when I look at my mother of how she is now enjoying her grandchildren kind gets me thinking of that pleasure in life. A beautifully thought of hub.


Tonipet profile image

Tonipet 3 years ago from The City of Generals

Very sweet hub, MsDora. Truly, grandparents empower the grandchildren in ways only saints could. I believe it's because unconditional love is every grandparent's everlasting selfless duty -- it's love and FULL of it, and regardless of age and body condition, playing with little ones seem to make them young, very young, once again. - the power of LOVE.

Very sweet hub! Thank you very much. :=) -Tonette


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Jynzly, congratulations on being a grandmother of five! Glad your parents gave you an idea of what grandparents are like. Continue to be grateful and joyful for your five precious gifts.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Lambservant, your grandchildren haven't said "saint" yet, but it seems to me that they will. Mine was born at the end of May and I am looking forward to meeting him. He is in the US and I'm still in the Caribbean, but we skype once a week. I love the little guy, dearly already.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

DDE, your turn will come. Then you'll really see what a pleasure it is.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Tonette, I believe like you do that playing with the grands keep the gramps young. Grandparents truly love like no one else. Thanks for your input.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

MsDora your hubs are soft and gentle to the eyes.. just like grandparents.. I could read your hubs all day... bless you


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks, Frank. What a kind compliment! Bless you, too.


denise.w.anderson profile image

denise.w.anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

I remember how I felt when my grandmother passed away, how there would be a terrible hole in my life where previously there had been love and acceptance. When my grandfather came to live with us after her death, it gave me an opportunity to spend time with him I would not have had otherwise. Those memories are priceless!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Denise, thank you sharing. Really, the love of grandparents is irreplaceable. Glad you have those memories.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Congrats Ms Dora


PaisleeGal profile image

PaisleeGal 3 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Dora... a great story. You have summed up in a few words the many faceted roles of Grands!. I've done a series here on HP about my own grandparents and how important they were in my life as well as my many cousins. It wasn't until I became a Gramma myself did I really reflect on my own grands. Thanks for the hub. Voted up!


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Thanks PaisleeGal. Hope I can find your series. I'm interested in the stories.


rajan jolly profile image

rajan jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

I'd like to be a good grandparent to my grandchildren when the opportunity presents. Becoming a grandparent is a revisit to the baby years of one's children and all about being young again.

Voted up.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Rajan, I bet you'll be a good grandpa. Between that and your healthy eating, you'll also remain young.


malonge profile image

malonge 3 years ago from Western New York On Hubpages

A wonderful article about those special special grandparents and the effect they can have on the little ones.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Malonge, thanks for your comment. So good to see here.


Scarlett Rain profile image

Scarlett Rain 3 years ago from Bakersfield

This is wonderful, I live with my grandma and she is absolutely amazing. I want to be just like her (:


MsDora profile image

MsDora 3 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Scarlett, your are truly blessed to have the presence of your grandmother with you. Treat her like choice treasure, because she is. Take care!


pattyfloren profile image

pattyfloren 2 years ago from Illinois

Ms. Dora, My grandparents died when I was a teenager. Sometimes when I read stories about grandparenting, I often heard myself say that grandma should have been here. But one has to trust God to show the way. I am truly blessed to be able to share with my grandchildren. Isn't life grand?


MsDora profile image

MsDora 2 years ago from The Caribbean Author

Patty, love your attitude. Enjoying the present brings us more benefit than grieving about the past. The best ot you and your grandchildren going forward.


Debraw50 profile image

Debraw50 4 months ago

Hello Ms. Dora,. I love this, very well written. Is the way I thought of my Grandma. She was a wonderful woman with a kind and caring heart. Everyone loved her. She read her Bible everyday and walked the good path. She always took the time for me out of a busy day. She taught me how to pray and how to treat others. To treat them good and kind. I loved my Grandma so much, and remember everything she taught me. I am trying to be just like her. I am the proud Grandma of twin baby girls. Thank you Ms. Dora for much beautiful reading. God bless you.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 4 months ago from The Caribbean Author

Debraw, thanks for sharing the story of your grandmother. You were blessed to have her in your life. Best to you and your twin baby girls, going forward.

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