6 Important lessons learned from our grandchildren
We grandparents take our role in the life of family members seriously. We are the senior generation with lots of life experience and history to pass on to younger family members. We’ve lived and learned and earned that place.
All this is true. But since all of life is an opportunity to learn, we can also glean important life lessons from our children and grandchildren. If we look at the very beginning of life—those early days when a newborn child arrives and begins to grow and follow their progress through their early years, we can get a new and unique perspective to what life is all about.
Let’s look at six ways babies and young children see the world and find the important take-away lessons for we older folks:
Part of Something Greater
Young children don’t know it yet, but they’re part of something bigger than their small selves. We cherish them in part because they represent the latest in a long chain of family. They’re part of their family’s heritage—their history. Older family members look both backward to those that came before and all their stories and look forward to what these new lives will experience and become. When we look at the newest member of the family we realize the ongoing cycles of life and take a certain pride and joy because of their existence.
When you contemplate your family’s history and its newest members, take joy in your heritage and all the history that is yours to own.
Eyes of Innocence
Little ones look at their small world with eyes of innocence. They only know their caregivers, their day to day family and the rhythms of life in their eating, sleeping and playing cycles. Their life is very small and their experiences limited. But in their innocence they help we older folks remember simpler and more honest ways of living. Babies know nothing of political strife, pandemics or suffering. They look for their next meal or the next toy put in front of them, and they’re content.
Sometimes it is a good thing for adults to take a step back from the cares of the world and look to simple things such as the beauty of the sea or the majesty of a mountain peak. Or to focus on the goodness of the relationships in our lives.
Have you ever watched a young child playing with bubbles? The big eyes, the big smiles, the happiness found in such a simple thing. There are no big expectations, no competition, just sheer joy in seeing the bubbles, tracking their movement and occasionally popping them. Children are easily pleased and enter into joyfulness with the simplest of events. They love to see animals, they love to run, they will joyfully roll down a hill of grass and laugh all the way.
When was the last time you enjoyed a simple pleasure? A quiet conversation with a friend, a leisurely stroll in the outdoors, a time of quiet contemplation? We can find joy in the simplest things.
Have you ever watched a young child jump into the arms of an adult without a thought that the adult might drop them? They are a study in absolute trust. We adults have learned through tough life experiences that we don’t have the luxury of trusting everyone we meet. But if we can find those friends and family members who are trustworthy and enjoy loving relationships with them, we’ve truly found a treasure.
Trusting and being trustworthy is a “safe place” in which to live. Look for those safe places.
Eager to Learn
Little babies don’t do much but eat and sleep. But they are learning machines. Every day they learn new skills, try new movements and literally learn something new every day. Once they learn to roll over, they want to pull up and once they pull up they want to walk. They never stop moving toward the next benchmark.
We oldsters can take a lesson from them. There is always more to learn and something new to explore. Life is exciting when we take a lesson from the young and engage in the wonder and curiosity of learning more about our world.
While children may not understand love and caring as we do, they respond to those around them with affection, trust and an openness that is refreshing. They smile and coo in response to our attention and as they grow older they learn to interact with their family members with an unconditional, freely-given love.
Granted, these emotions can change over time and with experience, but in general children are willing to give their love to those who care for them. They aren’t keeping score of unkind words, or wrongs done them, they just want to enjoy the relationships with the people they live with. They keep it simple and are generous with their affections. A good lesson for all of us.
Unconditional love is a gift we can give and receive. It makes life’s challenges seem less as we link arms to face them.
Our children are our future. We place hope in them and want only good things for them. We look forward to the things we can teach them and offer them. But it would also be wise to open our hearts and minds to learn the beautiful lessons they can teach us.