Grandparents and Your Love Life

Child_pushing_grandmother_on_plastic_tricycleLet’s face it, the job of raising a child takes a significant amount of psychological maturity. Sometimes, a bit more than what parents have attained by the time they have their children. Nothing worse than being brought up by immature parents, right?

If you are born into a family with immature parents, what happens now? If you are among the unfortunate born into an ‘isolated’ nuclear family with immature parents, you will have to struggle with the immaturity of your parents until you are old enough to declare your independence. Then you will try your best to discover who you really are inside, get out from under anything you picked up living with parental immaturity that is unhealthy, and try to mature yourself as a person so that you don’t necessarily repeat the pattern with your own kids.

Just for your information, parental immaturity has a million and one expressions, many of them have to do with narcissism  (needs of the parent are always put before the needs of the child) or dependency (possessiveness and control) or difficulty recognizing and supporting the unique individuality of offspring (instead of always demanding they be what you want them to be or do).

If you are among the fortunate, you have a grandparent or two who loves you in such a way as to ‘fill in’ or ‘correct’ the excesses, absences, or unhealthy relatedness of your parents. If you think about it, grandparents have a certain task assigned to them. Beyond the usual babysitting and consulting services they might offer their child-parent offspring, there is the simple task of loving the grandchildren and ‘teaching them about love’ without the responsibility and burden of discipline.  This is usually accomplished by simply loving them without the responsibility and burden of discipline. It’s the closest we can come to unconditional love.

For example, healthy grandmothers are people who have managed to work the immaturity out of their characters by the time they make it to grandmother status. Now you have a pretty special person when you have a matured grandparent in the family system. In fact, I have heard many adults complain over the years that their mothers and/or fathers give more love, or better love, to their children than what they got when they were young. Sorry.

This difference in treatment may progress well into adulthood along with the hard feelings. Unfortunately, in this case grandma or grandpa didn’t do so well as ‘mom’ and ‘pop’ because they had to grow or mature a bit beyond the point when they had their own kids. The good news is, the grandparent is now ready to give whatever love he or she has inside and it usually goes to their grandkids.

Of course in some more rare instances, when parents reach grandparent status, after mellowing out a bit, after loving your kids (their grandkids) for a few years, they begin to truly appreciate and know the value of life and love. They just might be in a position to reflect on what was lost when they were raising their own kids. Sometimes. Unfortunately, many grandparents find this kind of time travel into the disappointments of the past, off limits. I myself suffered the immaturity of my parents.

My own mother’s mother and father’s mother filled in the gaps for me at a very early age. I got worried when I started to mix joy with tears shortly after proposing to my girlfriend, now my wife. She was worried too. She asked why and said isn’t this sort of thing supposed to be a happy event? When I could talk I said that my tears occurred because I thought of my grandmother (mother’s mother) and how I would have loved for her to meet the woman I love who was going to be my wife.

Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan

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Dr. Jordan

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist, certified interpersonal psychoanalyst, author, professor, and love life researcher.

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