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Grandparents Are Good for Kids

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Who doesn't have issues with a parent? But when it comes to the grandchildren, everyone can be happy.

angelina jolie and jon voight

Jeanne Sager: I think I can speak for a good portion of America when I admit that I've always wanted to have something in common with Angelina Jolie.

And I'm not talking the "Octomomsense of creepy adoration (no fake lips for me).

But Ms. Pouty Lips and I have finally got a connection: We've got parent problems. And we're willing to set them aside for our kids.

A host of media reports say that the much-publicized rift between Jolie and her dad, actor Jon Voight, has been healed, with Grandpa Jon flying into Venice over the weekend to see his daughter and her brood of kids. A family rep even told CNN, "He's crazy about his grandkids. He thinks each and every one is very special."

Angie -- may I call you Angie? -- I get it. And I give you two thumbs up for being a parent first, a daughter second.

It's not always easy. I know from experience. Like many teenage girls, I had a tumultuous relationship with my mother, and by adulthood it hadn't gotten much better. Things came to a head during my pregnancy: My mother largely ignored me while I carried her grandchild, skipped my baby shower and even declined the trip to the hospital to meet her new granddaughter.

Just over a week after my daughter was born, my husband and I called together all four grandparents and my brother for a family dinner. We placed my daughter in my mother's arms, and that was that.

Who doesn't fall in love with a baby? For that matter (as every parent knows), your baby is the one NO ONE can resist. Right?

I've had to learn to step back and let my daughter have her own relationship with her grandmother, and also to realize that their relationship has absolutely nothing to do with me (well, other than that little blood thing going on).

We bicker. They don't. Because my daughter isn't me. She's her own person, with her own dislikes, likes and her own sense of adventure.

And she gets things from my parents that I can't give: the sense of history; the place the family holds in the community ... as a whole, are all important. But so are: the extra My Little Ponies (given "just because"); the Barbie fruit snacks that I refuse to pick up but that really won't hurt my daughter as long as they're given out one-by-one every so often; the chance to sleep between two adults in the big-people bed when she has a perfectly good bed down the hall.

Kids need to be spoiled now and then. And as parents, we tend to suck at it. "Bad cop" is our lot in life.

But that shtick doesn't work without a good cop, and grandparents are ready and willing to step into that role (Barbie fruit snacks in hand).

Your parents might drive you batsh*t crazy. Been there, done that, keep my hair really short to prove it. But when my daughter comes home from Oma's after a girls' night of toenail- painting and homemade crepes, she's just crazy in love.

Kind of like Jon Voight and Brangelina's brood.

next: An Olympic-Size Marriage
4 comments so far | Post a comment now
chris February 26, 2010, 5:48 AM

I agree even though I never had real problems with my mom but I did have a special relationship with my grandmother. To this day (I’m 42) I still think she is the strongest yet must loving person I know. I have a respect for her that I never had for any other women.

Random Thoughts of a Jersey Mom February 26, 2010, 12:14 PM

I have a strong relationship with my mother and have no problems with in-laws but am estranged from my father for many years now. No, I will not set aside bad feelings so my children can get to know him. Why? Because he’s a wife beater and cheated on my mother up to the time she got fed up and divorced.

tennmom February 26, 2010, 4:29 PM

I had and still have a great relationship with my parents. A few years ago they moved to the same town as I and it takes all of 5 minutes to get to their house. My younger daughter spends every saturday night with them, my older daughter once a month.
My grandparents were also great. It was especially fun b/c my mom’s mom married my dad’s dad after my parents married.
I think Jersey Mom is right to not want her father around her children. Just because someone is family doesn’t mean it is a good idea to let a toxic person around your children.

Gigohead  February 26, 2010, 6:12 PM

My mother and my step father divorced years ago. They don’t get along but they do set aside their differences for my kids. my stepfather is the only grandfather my children have so it does work out and he loves my kids.

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