This family life: why being close to your grandparents makes you a better person

All of us have grandparents. Some are alive throughout our lives while others may only be with us for a short amount of time. Even others who never get to ever meet their grandparents. For those of us, including myself that get to know our grandparents, it’s probably one of the most special relationships we will ever have in our lifetime.

I was extremely fortunate to have both of my maternal and paternal grandparents alive when I was born. What’s even better is that I had the privilege to grow up with my maternal grandparents right by my side.

From playing with Barbie dolls with me, to walking me to the bus stop every morning, to taking me to the pool in the summer every day, my grandparents had a direct influence on who I am today. They helped raise me and for that I am the person that I am today.

It’s this relationship that I think is so seldom shared with others. But the benefits are immense. Being so close with my grandparents taught me so much about life, love, failure, strength and courage.

1. You are stronger than you think you are

The thing about grandparents is that they LOVE to tell stories. Of all kinds. I learned how my grandfather survived WWII as a Jewish man. I found out my grandmother lost her brother in WWII. How my grandparents left their life and all their belongings in the former Soviet Union to immigrate to America for a better life for their family. All of these stories showed me how strong these two people that were part of my history were. It taught me that if they are part of my family, and they have such strength, I have that same strength as well. So even when I think I can’t do something because it’s hard, I remember what my grandparents had overcome throughout their lives and I am able to push forward and challenge myself. The best part? I do find that inner strength within myself.

Public speaking? I got this. Breakup with my boyfriend? I can move on. Remembering how strong my grandparents were will always serve as a reminder hat I have inner strength.

2. It’s totally okay to be a hopeless romantic.

Before “The Notebook”, “Pretty in Pink”, and “When Harry Met Sally”, I had the love story of my grandma, Genya, and my grandpa Boris. They were a great pair. A very stereotypical relationship. My grandma loved to cook, bake and entertain. She was THE best housewife. My grandpa, on the other hand, loved being the man of the house. He loved his family and wanted to provide only the best for them. Seeing my grandma and grandpa show their love, in their own unique way was my first introduction to romantic love.

After spending so much time with my grandparents I began to notice little things in my grandparents’ relationship that has always stuck with me. Everyone has their quirks and flaws, and people who love you will accept you and love you in spite or because of your flaws and quirks. As a kid I had decided that I wanted to have a relationship like theirs. As I grew up I continued my love affair with love. I grew up thinking that love exists. It’s totally possible to find a person to match your quirkiness. Someone who will deal with all your flaws and love you anyway. This is what my grandparents’ relationship showed me as I grew up. To see a loving couple survive so much tragedy, heartache, struggle and accomplishment, was inspiring.

3. When you fall down, get back up.

Failure. Grandparents have lived such long and varied lives that at some point they have most likely failed at something. Whether they failed in their career, in love, or in how they raised their children (including your parents), they have learned from their mistakes. And oh boy are they excited to share their life lessons with you.

I learned how failure doesn’t define you. By seeing my grandparents overcome their obstacles, I got the courage to overcome any and all obstacles that come my way.

4. They save us from our parents.

Grandparetns have such a special relationship with their grandkids. They will do anything, even protect them from their own parents. When my mom would yell at me for not doing my homework, I quickly turned to grandma. My grandma would explain (illogically of course), my exhaustion from a whole day of being school. I needed a break (duh!). My grandparents were always there reminding me that I could trust them unconditionally with anything and everything.

5. It’s okay to be silly.

My grandma is the queen of never taking herself seriously. As long as I knew her, she would love to play with me. From Barbie dolls, to being the only person willing to taste my easy bake oven treats (thanks grandma), to letting me put makeup on her, to me doing her nails, and doing her hair. I got to practice various professions, with my grandma. She was down for anything. Even if she looked ridiculous, she didn’t care at all.

Looking back I guess having lived long enough to know that it doesn’t matter what others think of her, she just did what she wanted. She taught me that it’s completely okay to walk around without a bra. Letting it all hang loose. And my grandma had some knockers!!

6. The importance of family.

My grandparents were the glue that held my family together. It was because of them that I was so close to my extended family. They maintained such strong familial ties. I knew stories about my great grandparents. I knew my second cousins. I didn’t need a family tree because I saw my extended family on the regular. They encouraged family members to stay connected and close. It’s this value that I cherish most from my relationship with my grandparents.

From unconditional love, to dropping everything for us, grandparents are the best. They make us better people when we allow ourselves to spend significant amounts of time with them. When we allow ourselves to develop deep, close relationships with our grandparents we benefit tremendously. Our grandparents benefit too. As they get older it’s more important than ever for them to have deep, close relationships with others. And as most of their friends begin passing away, having someone young, like a grandkid by their side helps them feel connected to society, to the world at large. And most importantly allows them to feel wanted. In a society that doesn’t seem to appreciate senior citizens,   I hope that we can begin making a change, so why not start with our very own grandparents.

Now I’d love to hear from you. How has your relationship with your grandparents impacted your life? Are you a grandparent reading this who would like to share how your relationship with your grandkids has impacted your life? I love hearing from all of you. Please leave your comments and feedback below.

Zoya

A 20-something girl on a journey to find herself with hopes of helping others feel their feelings.