Monday, September 3, 2012
Older Adult, First-Time Grandparents: Interview with Frances Shani Parker (Baby Video)
New Grandparents Mitch and Lonnetta White with Amelia
Becoming grandparents for the first time can be quite spectacular, especially for older adults. My friends Lonnetta and Mitch White recently began this wonderful journey just in time for Grandparents Day on September 9th. Their contagious excitement over the birth of "Miss Amelia" prompted me to feature them on this blog. Not surprisingly, they were eager to share their pride, joys, concerns, and expectations in this interview.
Lonnetta (L), Mitch (M)
1) What were your thoughts as you anticipated the arrival of your first grandchild?
I have/had feelings of extreme happiness, joy, and excitement!
My thoughts were fantasies of how wonderful it is going to be to love and spoil a grandchild the way I was loved and spoiled by my paternal grandmother.
I remembered the anticipated arrival of my son. Of course, in those days we didn’t know if we were having a girl or boy. The imaging technology simply hadn’t gotten that far. But I was there in the delivery room and had the privilege of seeing Amelia when she emerged from the delivery room. What a wonderful opportunity!
2) How did you feel during the first days after Amelia was born?
I felt proud and on top of the world. I was also pleased that she was FINALLY here healthy and absolutely gorgeous! I felt blessed to see, hold, kiss, cuddle, and in all ways experience my granddaughter.
I was elated, in wonder of this child who came here with her eyes wide open.
3) What do you love most about this new chapter in you life?
Life is good! Optimism is a constant companion and more easily accessible. My existence has given me a new lens through which I view the world. Every time I think of her I find myself smiling!
She’s been here before!
4) Grandparents are an important influence in their grandchildren’s lives. How does
Amelia influence your life?
I brag incessantly. I now have a subscription to a magazine on parenting. In addition, I read all articles about babies and parenting. I want to do all that I can to help her to be the best at whatever it is she wants to be.
I am the proud grandpa who never loses an occasion to show the latest picture or video of Amelia. She’s the most observant child I have ever seen. I just want to be called Grampa, not Grandpa, but simply Grampa.
5) What concerns do you have about Amelia growing up during this particular time in
I am concerned that she be afforded opportunities to be whoever and do whatever she wants in a peaceful, clean, and politically just world. I am also concerned that her gender and race not be deficits. My ultimate wish is that she be healthy, confident, happy, and successful.
All of American history has its challenges. Amelia comes to us at a time when inequities are in full force, but she is fortunate to come from a family of modest economic means. She has a powerful enclave of parents and grandparents to help her in her development.
6) At an early age, children begin to internalize negative stereotypes about older adults.
Many grow up to become the stereotypes themselves. How will you help Amelia
understand that negative stereotypes about older people are not true?
I will provide experiences and conversations that allow and encourage her to be less judgmental, more open-minded, and optimally tolerant and respectful of everyone, regardless of age.
Amelia will learn this from the warm and supportive cocoon of her parents with occasional intervention from her aunt and grandparents.
7) In terms of character building, what role will you play in encouraging Amelia
to become a proactive person who cares about improving society?
I believe Amelia’s parents are proactive individuals who respect and care about themselves and each other. They will be her first role models. My hope is to teach her by example that she can influence her world by being a competent leader.
I don’t know about Amelia becoming a “proactive person who cares about improving society,” but I do know I'd like to see her become very aware of herself, her own capabilities, and her ability to share with others. I believe that if you learn the lessons of sharing, you learn how to help and respect others.
8) What advice do you have for other grandparents in making their grandparent
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your precious little ones! Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! Encourage and support them in their endeavors to become happy, successful adults.
I’m too early in this wonderful adventure to offer advice to others, but I do know that, whether you’re raising a child or supporting your grandchildren, it’s extremely important to show them love by attending to their needs, teaching them to share, and helping them to grow beyond themselves. Right now, Amelia is understandably egocentric. The world is her oyster. Getting her in another structured environment is the next step towards preparing her to interact with the world. She’ll be ready sooner than we think. She’s been here before.
Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.