Welcome to Jean Smith Books Online.
Lifesavers for Grand Parents
In the rapidly evolving
arena of family dynamics, grandparents are often called to
provide a stable foundation for children. Author Jean Smith, a
grandmother of nine, speaks from the field and provides
guidelines for success that have been tried and tested.
testimonials and stories of a family’s journey will inspire you
to succeed as a grandparent. This is a “how to do it” book for
mature adults who aspire to invest in the future through the
lives of their grandchildren
Sample Chapter with table of contents
Purchase the Book on Amazon
By Jean Smith – senior author
Recognize Your Options
Each year brings new beginnings for many. A new
resolution, another diet, new adventures, or a new approach to an old
problem. As I reflect on family, I am reminded over and over again how
critical it is for my approach to extended family to be intentional. Not
accidental, but deliberate, bathed in prayer. Waiting for the next
encounter or opportunity to be with family forces me into the role of
problem solver and robs me of the opportunity to make the choices I
earnestly desire. Pause and think out of that old box for a minute, and
try to visualize how we can better communicate our love and concern for
family. Try methods never before tried, experiment with new plans and
spend much time in prayer before presenting these ideas to our loved
ones. We know that family draws near at times of crisis and how grateful
we are. Do not allow the
gaps between family times to become so wide, weary travelers may despair
before they make the journey.
A seasoned observer of parties and celebrations
with and for children will note the essential part of the event.
Children long remember what they did at the party, not what they ate.
Yet we spend hours and money choosing the food, trimmings and
neglect the essential part, leave it to professional entertainers or
often leave it unplanned.
The same principal applies to family events. With
Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon, consider spending time
planning fun events to keep your family returning home for the holidays.
Traditional foods go a long way but soon disappear. What do family
members do before and after the meal time?
Some families share blessings, remember years gone
by or watch videos of good family times together. We enjoy games
together, when the football games have been reviewed by all the sports
fans of the family. This year I am planning an event before the meal,
giving family members a list of major products of our society they are
to arrange by the year they were invented. The list is fun and age
appropriate for my “double digit” grandchildren and family members. A
prize goes to the winner.
Following the meal, we have two events for anyone
wishing to participate. First, we have quilt squares ready to assemble.
Strips and middle pieces have been planned and they all assemble two
blocks, adding their name to
box. The quilt will
be finished by Christmas and we draw for a winner from the box. For our
additional event, materials are gathered to assemble fun Santas, using
Clorox Wipes for a base, adding fabric, beards, glasses, hats, etc.
Our final event is asking everyone to gather outside after dark
and we turn on all the Christmas lights.
Obviously all these events require planning and advance
preparation. Everything works best if carefully prepared and
participation is optional.
The point is – it is more important than the food.
TIME TESTED RELATIONSHIPS
Many words of wisdom have been penned extolling the
unique relationships within families, and the unique component always
seems to be the extent of time spent together. Many of us feel the tugs
of familiar times and ways pulling us back toward what we knew as home,
with the people we know so well.
Grandparents rely upon this precious tool for keeping families
I recently experienced an unusual opportunity which
occurred because of this same principal of relationships built over
extended time. I began leading a Girl Scout troop when the girls were in
2nd grade, and the group of 20
girls remained together until they graduated from high school. All the
girls were in the same grade and same school. We met every week and
camped each month for eight years. The close ties formed were unusual
and lasting. Twenty years later, the group decided to meet to celebrate
with me the publishing of my first book. Eighteen of the twenty members
came from near and far, bringing families with them. The time together
was loving, funny and warm and reminded us of time travel. It seemed as
if we had never been apart.
Relationships established over time are like strong
steel cable, not easily broken. Praise God for the joy of family and
friends found in such secure bindings.
THEY BUILT A FENCE
It’s a nice fence, good wood, pleasing color and
the fence provides a perfect background for our roses. The problem is,
we can’t see over it. For years, we enjoyed standing at our chain link
fence and visiting with our neighbors. We shared family news, traded
recipes and shared plants and garden tomatoes, until they built a
fence. All communication has stopped because the fence is eight feet
tall Everything changed because of that fence.
Family fences occur in multiple ways and some may
be tall, very, very tall.. Divorce, drugs, transfers, affairs, sexual
preferences, religious issues, morality disputes, or various
disagreements or disappointments construct bridges which block views and
hinder family communication. It seems everything has changed, because
of that fence.
The neighbors still live there on the other side of
that fence. They have not changed, not really. They just wanted a
fence. They did not tell us or ask our permission. We know our consent
was not required, but they didn’t even ask. We never seem to make the
effort to climb over the fence, build a gate, or even walk around it.
Communication was so easy before, and now it seems much too difficult.
Why even try?
Find a way to get around the fences in your family.
The family is still there, the children may not have noticed the
changes the fence caused, and they wonder why they don’t see you. The
better defense may be to forget what it was like before the fence and
concentrate on what is, and how to best maintain contact.
Here’s to grandparents, who are as different as their
Those who work at home, those who are
Those who cook or quilt or drive or ride
or play or create.
Those who play golf or
practice free throws or new cheers.
Those who cheer honor students or those
who accept green hair.
Those who tutor slow students and those
who go back to college.
Those who sit in the rocking chair and
those who travel by jet.
Those who communicate electronically or
Those who grandparent alone.
Those who teach and accept diversity.
Those who spend time with grandchildren
when in personal pain.
Those who become both parent and
Those who speak a different language, or
have different skin tone.
Those who courageously blend families
together and those who choose to live alone.
Those who accept criticism as well as
Those who never, never give up.
What is the difference between making decisions and
giving advice when relating to grandchildren and their families? The
decision occurs when, and if, we are to express an opinion. Many
grandparents overlook this step and move right into expressing opinions
and advice without slowing enough to decide if the door is open for this
or any input. It is easy to understand the need to abstain from giving
unsolicited advice, but how about recommendations for major decisions?
Is it ever acceptable to give advice to our children about parenting?
When can we put our wonderful treasure of information to use to guide
our young family?
Sometimes, the best way to approach decisions
affecting more people than you is to ask a few questions and listen and
listen quietly. If you have paved this communication road with good
will, and they see and feel your genuine interest, they may ask for your
opinion. And remember—an opinion is not necessarily binding, but only an
opinion; one opinion among many, and one opinion which may not be
chosen. Thank God for the
opportunity to be heard, then back away quietly and watch your grown
children parent. You could
be very pleased.
Amidst the January hustle of storing decorations,
returning gifts, resting up and enjoying photos of the holidays, I have
listened as friends reflect on their season highlights. Here are a few
of my favorites:
- Lots of quiet family time, eating, laughing,
- The family returned to reading Luke 2 and
children dressing for their parts of the nativity story, animals and
- Our adult children units each gave us a song,
all older hymns. Recorded on U Tube
- The new baby performed with her parents to
“Must Be Santa”
- Grown children each wrote a letter to their
parents. Accented with photos of them with parents through years of
development, the pages made a treasured scrapbook.
- Young teens used their own money to surprise
their mother with a chair big enough for all three to snuggle.
- Snow globes for my grandchildren, with their
photos as children and now.
The best stories show values found when loved ones
spend time together and invest in gifts from the heart.
January is a good time to reflect and plan for the year ahead and
next year’s holiday season basted in love and appreciation for family.
SENIORS: WRITE YOUR STORY
Seniors are walking, breathing history books.
Even if the cover is not glamorous, the contents can move readers
emotionally if the senior finds the courage to share the story. You know
how to spin a yarn, to tell a story, especially if it is one you shared
in. Try recording
these stories in some form and you will find the task refreshing and
delightful. Life brings to each of us experiences which take residence,
content to remain unheard unless we call them out.
When these tales guided by emotion emerge, stories from the heart
flow freely. Mature friends,
speak from your heart – find your voice and let it be heard.
Readers will rejoice when they read a story which floods their
mind with memories of a time dimmed by age. Your vast library of
information, wisdom, humor and experiences will be gone when you are.
Leave a living legacy – write it down.