During the months leading up to the birth of our first grandchild, my wife, Teri, and I received a lot of knowing winks and smiles from friends who were already grandparents.

"You’re gonna love it," they insisted without exception. We were indeed awed and curious as we felt this new family member gently rolling within her mother’s expanding belly. When the moment of birth arrived, all four grandparents leaned against the door of the delivery room, listening intently for the first cry. When it came, we couldn’t contain our joy and tears.


Neither Teri nor I recalled this much awe and wonder with our own two kids. Most of my memories of our firstborn’s arrival involve feeling sleep-deprived, reluctant about the 24/7 responsibilities, worried about Teri’s recovery and more annoyed than I care to admit whenever that vaguely accusatory newborn cry wouldn’t subside right away. My mom, however, bestowed generous doses of awe and wonder on her grandchildren and helped us reorient our attitudes on a regular basis.

When we first learned we would become grandparents, we wasted no time setting up a nursery in our home. But during her first several visits with us, our granddaughter spent little time there because all we wanted to do was hold her. We would gaze at her tiny features, play with her toes, let her fingers grasp one of ours, marvel at the miniature nails, cradle her head, grin at her unruly storm of dark hair and wait for one of those smiles that would illuminate the room.

Room to reflect

I know it doesn’t always work this way, but I believe God intends grandparents to be the agents of an important message to young parents who may be feeling more than a little overwhelmed: This little person you have brought into the world is precious beyond measure. By the way, you don’t have to be a grandma or grandpa to do this. Interested relatives and friends can also embrace the role of providing awe and wonder, especially where and when it may be in short supply.

Without the relentless "buck stops here" duties of early parenthood, relatives can put errands and chores on hold while they spend time with new children, knowing their home will return to quiet once again.

Grandparents may reflect on their parenting years and wonder whether they might have put a little more emphasis on enjoying the early years instead of worrying so much about messy rooms or crayon marks on the walls. With grandchildren they have that opportunity, the chance to observe and savour moments that will pass quickly.

It is an incredible gift for grown children to see their offspring through the eyes of a love-struck grandparent or relative. When Grandma’s face lights up the instant Ella toddles through the front door, it helps Mommy remember why she became a mother in the first place. When Grandpa values playing with Joshua more than watching a football game, it helps Dad renew his commitment to be a good father. When grandparents regard little ones with awe and wonder, they bless two generations at once.

Dr. Paul Reisser was a family physician in Thousand Oaks, California, at the time of publication, and a member of the Physicians Resource Council. He has two grown children and two grandchildren.

© 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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