My mother said of her eleven grandchildren, “they’re an interesting lot”. My mother-in-law loved her five grandchildren unconditionally. Both women were very present in the lives of these children, each quite different in character, each with their hopes and dreams as they grew towards adulthood. They know their grandmothers’ family stories. Both women were comfortable in their grandmotherly contributions toward the children’s upbringing. The kids respected their grandparents. As the joke goes, at Grandma’s, the answer is always, “yes!”
I study my eight grandchildren and I echo the sentiments. People who go before are our mentors. Their lived experiences and words show us the way. The older generation has a vital part to play in shaping the lives of the younger generation. We share our heritage and values that have held true over time. We each do it in our own way.
To have a sense of belonging, to know you are cared for within a loving family and are part of a cohesive community, shapes your sense of self and direction in life.
It is worth reading about the late Dame Whina Cooper, whāea and kuia, influential Māori leader who protested against the loss of tribal lands and the alienation of her people.Much is written about her determination to restore pride to people, their sense of self and access to their rightful heritage embodied in their ancestral lands.
Whina Cooper’s actions and words are a study in grandparenting the next generation, in giving direction and showing the way to care for the next generation in Aotearoa New Zealand .