Category Archives: Responsibilities of Grandmothers

Teach Family History to the kids

I stumbled upon this site.  It looks cool, and I hope to try out the workbooks soon.



This is a call to Grandmothers out there.  Encourage your daughters and other girls in your life who are of child-bearing age to avoid all forms of alcohol.  Even the small amount of social drinking can cause mental and physical disorder called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  Remember when we young women were advised to take folate to prevent Spina Difida?  This is just as preventable as that!  Why take any chances?  Grammas of the world, we have our work cut out for us.

Dr. Carl Bell, a psychiatrist in Chicago, began sounding the alarm about fetal alcohol spectrum disorder four years ago.

Source: This Chicago doctor stumbled on a hidden epidemic of fetal brain damage | PBS NewsHour

This Chicago doctor stumbled on a hidden epidemic of fetal brain damage | PBS NewsHour


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Gramma Nettie helps change the world

Grandmothers!  Do you know how important reading is?  No, I don’t mean the mamby pamby stuff that we do because it keeps the kids occupied for a time.  I mean real reading.  Real books that cause children to think, to learn and to try new things.  This is the stuff geniuses are made of!

RedBoy learns about sharks

RedBoy learns about sharks. He is happy. Really!

Jim Trelease is a retired school teacher.  His research has become very important.  He discovered that Phonics is the “how-to” mechanics of reading. But children tend to stop reading for enjoyment before they are even graduated.  Our job is to instill the “want-to” joy of reading. His brochure “Why Read Aloud to Children?” is a great tri-fold primer to get started.  The link is here.

Suzuki’s method of teaching violin is to have the kids listen to music over and over and over before they even touch a musical instrument.  Trelease, without realizing it, says essentially the same thing.  The child learns to speak by listening to words over and over.  The child learns to read by listening to books read to him over and over.

Did you know that the children lose interest in reading for enjoyment about the same time the adults stop reading aloud to them?  This happens about middle school.  But this is when reading aloud SHOULD continue! Children read books at one level.  But they understand books at about two levels higher.  Reading upper level books gets the kids used to the different way the language works, and introduces new words they would never hear, otherwise.

Trelease cites the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study which found that those Kindergarten children who had been read to at least three times per week were at least twice as likely to score well in reading readiness. Did you know that a good childrens’ book is three times richer in vocabulary than the spoken word?  Reading aloud gets those words into the kids.

The Huffington Post had an article about the American Academy of Pediatrics policy on promoting literacy.  AAP wants Pediatricians to encourage parents to read aloud to their children, calling it critical they do so. Gramma Nettie can help by offering books that are designed for parents and grands to read to children of all ages.

The Usborne Lady


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Gramma Nettie’s influence

My baby has a birthday.  I had to do some quick math to discover her age, now.  I always say that with five kids their ages are always changing, and one simply cannot expect me to remember all of these ever-changing years.


Great Grandmother photo by BillRuth

She is the mother of my two grandsons, and she is very competent at her job.  She was singing “It’s my party and I’ll sing what I want to.  Sing what I want to.  You would sing too, if it happened to you!”  Well, one of her friends pointed out that her words were not exactly what Lesley Gore sang in 1965.  Her response made my heart sing:  “My mother sang it that way, and so that’s what I sing.”

A woman has a surprising amount of influence on her children.  And on her grandchildren, it appears.  According to Susan Adcox, there are several things a grandmother can do to make a positive impact on them, including my favorite — valuing people above things.  Especially when a valuable item is broken, the first message should be “are you okay?”

I remember when I lived with my own grandmother for a year.  She explained how the rain makes the air smell different, better.  To this day, I think of her when I smell rain coming.  She introduced me to swordfish steaks, and to drying cheddar cheese on the counter (although I cannot remember what she was drying it for).  She gave my sisters and me big hugs when we arrived, and waved to us as we left until we were completely out of sight.  She taught me how to play rummy.  She was not perfect, and she wore baggy dresses with aprons and good sensible shoes.  Yet in my mind there was no other way for a Grandmother to look and be.  She was perfect to me. Understanding how I remember my own grandmother, I can appreciate (and, perhaps, guide) the perceptions my grandsons will have of me.

My plan is to influence them by reading to them; by introducing them to music with recorder and dulcimer; and by giving them their own family history so they know where they came from.  I want to teach them to cook what my mother called “soul food,”  usually red beans and rice.  She explained that her mother made this when there was nothing else available; that it was food “to keep body and soul together.”  I think of Momma when I serve this dish.  To me it is great food.  To her, she ate it because there was nothing else in the house.

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Gramma Nettie the RockStar photo by daughter

I want my grandchildren to remember me every time they listen to classical music, or every time they repeat one of my favorite phrases that I learned from my own mother.

Ready or not, like it or not, I am an influence to my grandchildren.  I must choose which direction that influence will take.


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Grandmothers — The Rules of Engagement

According to Susan Hoffman in her article on Ezine @rticles, the rules for being a Grandmother has changed, and not necessarily in a good way.


She comments how parents have moved away, or how the parents are somehow alienated from their own parents, from the Grandparents.  she further mentions how the “Me” generation has adopted a new set of family values.  As they raised their children into adulthood, they wanted to give them a better life.  Unfortunately, they gave them too much; by overindulging them, they created an atmosphere of selfishness, of the inability to respect their parents.  although the grandparents did not intend to, they created a monster.

This, she says, creates Grandparents who are no longer needed.   But, Grandparents ARE needed.  Looking at how many young mothers go to the clinics and to the emergency rooms for ailments which Grandmother would have known how to treat is one example.  Most Grandmoms have experienced many childhood illnesses, and can easily support the mother through a difficult time of life.

But, no matter what, Grandparents still have to roll with the rules laid down by the parents.  Parents are the authority figure, and they get to call the shots.  The successful Grandmother will adapt to this change in authority, if ONLY to maintain the relationship with the grandchildren.

It is good to know that there are resources out there for Grandparents, to raise social consciousness.  Grandparents are needed, and sometimes it is up to us to figure out the special niche, the precious area in which we are able to connect with the children of our children.

To read the entire article, see Susan Hoffman’s article here:

Hoffman, Susan “Grandparenthood: Changing Rules and Roles.” Grandparenthood: Changing Rules and Roles. 7 Feb. 2013 6 Mar. 2013 <­Changing-­Rules-­and-­Roles&id=7493387>.


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Waving Goodbye

Recently, my daughter came to visit me at my new home. We had a great visit, and had a lot of fun with my grandson and with his aunt and uncle (my other two children). We got time to talk about plans for the future, and just to visit. Nothing unusual.

Nothing, that is, until it was time to leave. I kissed and hugged everybody goodbye at the doorway, and walked back into the house. But then, that niggling feeling that I had forgotten something very important came to me. I had to rush out of the house in my bare feet so I could wave my daughter and son-in-law and my grandson out the driveway. It took a long time to figure out why this seemed so important to me. Then it came to me.

0000WA~1photo by W.V.

About every four years or so, my mom and dad drove a great distance to visit my mom’s mother. We would visit for a week, or two weeks. And when it came time to leave, I would look back to see my grandmother standing in the yard, waving to us until we could no longer see her. I hadn’t thought about this for a long time, but it became imperative that I do the same thing. I had to do “The Grandmother Thing,” and wave to them until I could no longer see them. Even though they live about 15 minutes away, I HAD to do this thing.

Because I am a Grandmother.


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Grandmothers who do too much

I understand Grandmothers who do too much for their grandchildren. Really, I do! I have a huge desire to protect my children, even when they are full grown, and just because my child has a child of her own doesn’t reduce that Motherly instinct. But …

2012,03 Kevin Erickson by JVS (52)

Photo by dayspringacres, of my daughter and grandson


There is a point where a Grandmother can “protect” her child too much. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen the grandmother take charge of the sick child, with Mother (with or without Dad) following behind.  Momma looks to Grandmother for the answer. Or, Gramma tells the “kids” to leave the room during an unpleasant procedure.  I am always dumbfounded, speechless, and even a bit angry. I bite my tongue: Just how did Gramma get to be such a strong maternal figure, except by coping with the hard times.  How is Momma ever to learn this herself?  I watch the mommas whose body language indicates they are unsure of themselves, and are timid, and don’t really know their own baby.

Well, of course they don’t! Because Gramma is taking over, the mother HAS to feel as if she is worthless — I know I would have, if my mother had done that to me!

I strongly feel that the Grandmother’s role is to support her child. She is to instruct her daughter how to be a good mother, not to take that job from the mother. She is allowed to give momma a break — HEY! We have to have Lovey Dovey time with our Grandkids, don’t we? But our primary job is to tell our daughters and our sons what a good job they are doing raising THEIR children. We had our chance, and I am one who is glad that I have all the fun and none of the responsibility! If the kid is sick (and momma is handling it well and isn’t sick herself) he is better off with his momma.

There is a quote, defining a Grandmother as a Mother who has a second chance. I disagree. Grandmothers are not mothers, and have a very different job. The jobs overlap sometimes, such as when we teach our grandchildren, but the emphasis is different.  I am more set in my ways, now, and this could get in the way of my relationship with my daughter and my grandson.  I know what is the right thing to do, but I don’t have the responsibility to act on what I THINK is the right thing to do.  That responsibility belongs to my daughter and her husband.  I may not agree, but I am not to say that I don’t agree.

Again, my job is to support my daughter, tell her lots of times what a wonderful job she is doing, and to love and teach my grandson the wonders of the world, and of his heritage.  I get to sing to him, and tell him about his momma when she was his age, and about where he came from.

Today, as I babysit my grandson, I put away my computer while he was awake, and I got down on the floor with him, we pulled out all the books from the bookshelf, we ate what foods we wanted to eat (within reason — we did NOT have leftover birthday cake), and we did not eat the carrots that Momma wanted him to eat.  And I sang to him and we danced together.  That is my job as a Grandmother — Show him how fun life can be, how interesting the world around him is.  this job will become even more important when siblings begin arriving, because his parents will be very busy, but I can pay special attention to him.  This is something I could not do to my children when I was Momma.

I am beginning to like my new role.


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