This Grandmother would like teenage advice.

My three older grandchildren are a girl 16, a girl 13 and a boy 11. They are the greatest joy of my life. I never had children of my own, but I married a widower with three grown children. So I have all of the fun and little responsibility.

What is your idea of an ideal grandmother for teenagers? What can I do to encourage and nurture them at this stage? I don’t want to embarrass them by doing the wrong thing.

Mine. Honestly. My grandparents are the two most amazing people I know. They got married when my grandmother was 17 and my grandfather was 22. They have now been married 53 years.

She had a talk to my sister about what it was like getting married when she was 17 (discussion brought about because my sister’s best friend got pregnant at 16). She wasn’t bashful about saying she made a mistake getting married young, and given the opportunity again would have waited.

It is amazing being with her. She has gone to the same church for over 30 years now, is in the prayer chain, and is on the church committee. Then she’ll go home with us and watch football with us all the while yelling, “TACKLE HIM GOD DAMN IT!!! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? HE’S GETTING 5 DAMN YARDS EVERY TIME!” She never ceases to crack my up.

My grandfather was in the military for a few years after my grandparents got married. They didn’t have the money to get wedding pictures before my grandfather left for the military and had to wait 4 years for him to get back before getting them.

He sold Red Wing shoes for 44 years. Going in EVERY SINGLE DAY. He eventually owned 5 different stores before “retiring” about 6-7 years ago. Retiring in name only. He STILL gets up at 6:00 every morning. This guy is 84 years old and STILL jogs 8 MILES A DAY!!! He then comes home and works around the house all day. This man can not stop working.

And the thing that most impresses me? He has NEVER ONCE complained. He’s gotten more stubborn and argumentative in his old age, but he still does what he needs to do. There is nobody on earth that is more of a man that my grandfather is.

:::Ughhhhh…I’m rambling:::

And they still go out to dinner every week. They still go see a show, and they still will dance, at least as much as my grandmother’s arthritis and replaced hip and knee will let her.

I honestly don’t let them know the amount of respect I have for them as much as I should, and I know one day it is going to be too late and I am going to be ashamed of it. But it is amazing just to watch them.

Just be honest. Like I said, my grandmother admitted she made a big mistake and missed out on a lot of stuff by getting married early. Sure she could have said, “Oh god, why’d your friend do that? Has she no self respect?” but she didn’t.

Embarrassing them isn’t at all always bad. Just a few months ago hearing my grandmother mumble about the effect my grandfather’s age would have on his…ummmmm…plumbing, sent my mother, sister, and I into a rolling fit of laughter.

Just be a person. Nothing is going to turn them off more than a condescending old person who never stops complaining about the “whippersnappers” of today. Be someone who is not judgmental. They will be going through a period where they might make some pretty dumb mistakes, and ones that you could have easily told them to avoid, but don’t dwell on the past. Make it known that they will be loved regardless of what happens.

Learning a little slang from the grandkids is also pretty cool.

If I may, I would like to reiterate Cyberhwk’s last comment: “Make it known that they will be loved regardless of what happens.”

This, I think, is the most important thing any grandparent can do.

Many years ago, when my parents divorced, I knew I could always count on my grandparents’ love and devotion. They were friends, confidants, and – most of all – people who loved me no matter what.

I hope that your grandkids don’t have to experience divorce to realize how much they need you, but I’m sure that any teens are going to have troubles (as all teens do), and having a cool grandmother who will never judge and always love is invaluable.

Mine are now unfortunately long gone, but they will never be forgotten. Even now, when I feel troubled, I remember how much they adored me just cause I was me. It’s something I will never forget.

Good luck and congrats!