Don't Be An Invisible Grandmother



Honey Good, Grandmother

Skylar, Granddaughter


What course of action should a grandmother take to teach her young adult granddaughter a valuable life lesson?


My granddaughter's inaction.

There are two schools of thought on how much emotional involvement grandparents should play in their grandchildren's personal lives. Some grandmothers feel it is their obligation to speak out when they disapprove of a grand's action. Other grandmothers feel it is their obligation to always come from love and keep the peace at all costs, while letting the parents handle problems that arise.

I am a grandmother who teaches her grands valuable lessons stretching across a broad range of topics, but I am not known as a grandmother who dishes out disciplinary actions.

Recently, I have somewhat changed my tune because I think it is my obligation to speak up when I feel something needs to be said, rather than fearing the disruption of our relationship.

After my heart-felt discussion with my granddaughter, Skylar, I now realize that trying to keep the peace when you know you should speak up will solve nothing. In reality, this will just damage the relationship between the grandmother and her grand.


My thoughts have been consumed for weeks regarding my relationship with Skylar. I have wanted to reach out to my grand, but could not bring myself to initiate a topic that had negative overtones.

It was late last night in our hotel room in London. Shelly was asleep beside me and peacefulness surrounded me. I lie in bed thinking of my last conversation with Skylar, over a month ago. It was so loving and heartfelt. I reached for my laptop, which is like my second husband. This was the perfect time to message Skylar. I would open up and let the chips fall where they may, teaching her a very important, lifelong lesson.


The phone rang over a month ago, while I was at home in beautiful Chicago.

I answered, "Good Morning!"

"Hi Honey, I miss you! I am calling to see how you are," said Skylar.

"I am great. What's going on at school?" I replied.

"I love my classes in the business school, softball is so much fun and I am trying to learn to live in the present, not the future," said Skylar.

"Oh, you are practicing the theory of mindfulness?" I asked.

"How do you know that word, mindful, Honey?" questioned Skylar.

"Because I studied mindfulness and learned the importance of living in the now," I explained.

"I am trying too, Honey," responded Skylar.

"You will learn to if you want to," I answered. "I am counting the days until I see you next month in Arizona, Skylar."

"Me too, Honey. Will you please stay at our house?" Skylar said.

"Yes, we will stay at the house," I answered, happily.

We continued talking for some time before saying our good-byes. The conversation ended with "I love you" and "See you next month."

The following month, three days prior to our arrival in Arizona, our trip was cancelled unexpectedly. Skylar had to know that I was extremely upset over the situation.

I waited more than three weeks for a phone call or text from Skylar. After receiving no call, text or email, I was heartbroken. Finally, last night in bed in London I decided it was time for an intervention from Honey. With laptop in hand, my goal was to teach her the importance of thoughtfulness.

My first message read: "Dear Sky, I have so much on my mind. It bothers me that I have not heard from you in three weeks and I have been very sad that I did not see you in Arizona. Please always remember the importance of thoughtfulness, it reveals who you are. You should always reach out to people when you know they are sad."

Moment later, Skylar responded: "Honey, I understand where you are coming from, but what you didn't know is the entire time I was home from college I was studying day and night for finals. After taking my finals, I ended this semester with straight A's. I didn't talk to anyone while I was home, even Michael with his concussion. I was very focused on raising my GPA this semester. I love you and I am sorry for not contacting you. I hope you can forgive me. I was just trying to finish this semester strong with my 18 credits. Love, Skylar. Call me after you read this and we can talk about it."

Dear readers, I decided I was not going to let her off the hook. There was no excuse for being thoughtless and I was no longer going to be a silent Sam. It was all about love. I had to teach her a lesson. And so, I sent the following message...

"Dear Sky, congrats on your straight As. I am very proud of you and I am sure you are very proud of yourself. Life is not 'only about you,' dear granddaughter of mine. You could have taken three minutes out of your study time to phone your grandmother and you should have taken some time and spent it with your ill brother. Those few minutes could have given two people you love very much a partial 'cure.' Love, Honey."

I received another message from Skylar that read, "I am so sorry, Honey. I will make that correction in the future. Love, Skylar."

Quickly, I responded, "I am so glad. I love you to the moon."

I knew all along that being a vocal grandmother when necessary was correct, but I shied away for fear of something happening that would cast a negative cloud on my relationship with my grands.

I did not want them to be upset with me. A grandmother does have to know where to draw the line, her wise lessons should be spoken with careful words and in a loving manner. On unimportant issues she should hold her tongue, as I always have. In the future, on important issues, I will express my feelings.

After our last exchange, I closed my laptop, gently placing it on the nightstand. I then took my sleeping husband's hand and put it in mine. As I closed my eyes, I smiled to myself thinking of how happy I was to have had the courage to embrace change, how much I loved this grand of mine and the knowledge of how much she loved me.