I have listened intently to a religious radio broadcast, recently, and the subject at hand dealt with overindulgent grandparents. There is a generational phenomenon going on today — I don't know, maybe it is ages old.
It has to do with parents letting their children spend nights with grandparents, and the kids return home with lavish gifts -- electronic toys and games, and devices. Parents are finding that their kids are returning home, feeling more entitled than ever -- and spoiled.
Grandparents have jokingly said, "My children's responsibility is to raise 'em -- and our job is to spoil 'em."
But it's becoming no joking matter. What is the answer?
While I don't have nearly all the answers, I do want to make a confession as a grandparent. There is a special kind of love that no one can fathom, nor can they explain until they become grandparents. They are the lights of our lives. People jokingly have said, "If I knew how much fun being a grandparent was, I would have had the grandchildren first."
I think it's safe to say, many grandparents today live with regrets about how they raised their own children. I think that is an issue in my own life. In younger days, we were too busy rushing here and there on behalf of our jobs, community activities, and other issues which involved maintaining the house, the family, and just life in general. Then, like a blur, those days with our children suddenly turn into graduation day for them -- and then in a flash, they're off to college. That haunting song, "Cats in the Cradle" grips our hearts and just intensifies our regrets that perhaps we squandered some precious days that we just can't get back.
When ya' common' home Dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son ya' know we'll have a good time then."
But that time quickly vanishes into oblivion and we find ourselves in an empty nest, listening to the echoing of children's laughter in the walls, and bitterly reminding us of fleeting days that passed all too quickly.
But alas - those days do return. Now we will make it up to our children, whom we feel we neglected all those years, by indulging their children. It's like we have a second chance to do it right through our grandchildren.
But by now, we have time and means to go "overboard" with it.
Can there be a "happy medium?" Let's love those grand-babies with all our hearts, and enjoy the time with them to the max — while not undermining their parents by lavishing too many entitlements on them and spoiling them irreparably.
Paul Gauntt currently serves as the pastor of First Baptist Church of Palmer.