Many things are not as easy as they look. There’s no such thing as Grandparent School. But our guest today shares her wisdom on grandparenting to help rookie grandparents (like me) learn the ropes and help experienced ones bring more mindfulness to their grandparenting. Shirley Showalter is the co-author of The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children.
Shirley Showalter joins us from Pennsylvania.
Shirley Showalter is an award-winning educator, author, speaker, and grandmother. With a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, Showalter served as a professor and then president of Goshen College in Indiana and as a foundation executive at the Fetzer Institute in Michigan. She and her husband live in Lititz, Pennsylvania.
For More on Shirley Showalter
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Mentioned in this episode:
On Learning with Grandchildren
“We want there to be energy and joy. And there certainly is, but it should be a gentle form, so that it’s not overpowering to the child. We can come across as too intrusive in their lives. Our questions can make them wary. They won’t even be able to understand why they aren’t sure, but it they might clam up instead of open up, if we don’t come into it sometimes from the side, or make our conversation starters in the form of questions. [My co-author] Marilyn has a real knack for that and she helps her grandchildren develop their own ability to ask questions, partly because she’s such a great asker of questions herself. And instead of telling you what’s new, she can say, Have you noticed that the blooming tree outside has been shedding its flowers this morning? And then they’ll go into a whole conversation about what kind of tree it is and why flowers are falling down now, but they were budding two weeks ago. You can get into it in great detail, but you have to come at it gently – and with no sense of overpowering a child’s own imagination.”
On Teamwork in Grandparenting
“You want to give yourself as much opportunity just to be present and to talk with the [adult] children and the in-laws. It’s actually good to have a conversation about what you expect of each other, what you hope for each other, what you dream for each other in the same way that you might write the letter to your grandchild. I think it is important to try to get to the same place of what we expect from each other and how can we help each other. This is not only a wonderful opportunity. This is a great responsibility. There’s never too much love in any child’s life and there’s never too much help – [unless] you offer the wrong help at the wrong time.That can be a problem. But most parents are so grateful for the little relief that they can get here and there. So having a conversation with the parents about roles and about hopes and dreams, I think is important early on. And expect that things will change and then keep learning and growing.”
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He’s the author of Win the Retirement Game: How to Outsmart the 9 Forces Trying to Steal Your Joy coming this summer.
Intro and Outro voiceovers by Ross Huguet.