By Dr Gail Crossley-Craven

Grandparenting is such a positive and joyous experience that is unique for everyone. For the grandparent, it is an opportunity to reach across the generation gap and to provide guidance and support. The engagement with grandchildren can provide meaning for the grandparent as they adopt the roles of family historian, the nurturer, the guru, the role model, the buddy, the magician, and the idol. For the grandchild, the experience can develop an acceptance and appreciation of age and experience. The shared experience of the grandparent-grandchild can create a strong human connectedness that is enduring and memorable. For both, it can nourish their mind, body and soul.

In an era where parents are raising children on their own, working extended hours, studying to further their career or just wanting some “me time”, grandparents play an active role in their grandchildren’s lives for the benefit of the grandchild/children, the parents and the grandparents.

I have observed and learnt (and still am learning) from the loving way my parents embraced their grandparent role and the connectedness that continues from one generation to another. Grandparents serve as nurturers and provide encouragement and support to family in stressful times. Whether helping as the sitter, the taxi, the listening ear, or the caring role, the grandparents’ challenge is a balancing act between reassurance and control. I observed my parents’ role model positive grandparenting by teaching, sharing skills and providing advice and listening to my children. As a role model grandparents provide grandchildren with examples of hard work and family loyalty.

My four children enjoyed playing in the bush land of our family home and our grandchildren share that same joy. As a grandparent, it is a thrill to have the opportunity to be a buddy to my grandchildren. It is so refreshing to hear my grandchildren’s enthusiasm of shared time spent reading books, playing games and sharing common interests such as music, theatre and even skateboarding and rock climbing. The magician role is one that mesmerizes grandchildren as their wide-eyed stares are flawed with intrigue as they truly believe GrandD removed their nose and successfully wiggled it between his fingers. The invaluable experiences my husband and I have shared with our grandchildren are so precious as life can change at any moment. Our lives are narratives with ongoing chapters. I embrace life’s lessons and cherish the importance and connection with my family. “Everything happens for a reason” is a common saying of mine and I firmly believe it. I always look for the positive in a situation and the lessons to be learnt as I am a perpetual student of life.

Upon reflection, my grandparents had a huge impact on my life. So much so, I wrote and published an educational illustrated children’s book, Poppy’s Walk. Set on the Sunshine Coast of Australia, Poppy is going to visit her uncle. She is enjoying the experience of being with her family when something happens to threaten the walk. This is a story about family love, an appreciation of nature, confronting fear and the wonderful relationship a child shares with her grandparents. The concept for Poppy’s Walk is a culmination of my personal reflections, likes and fears. Growing up, I have spent many memorable holidays on the Sunshine Coast at the Currimundi Lake family beach house built my father. I have very fond memories of my childhood experiences on the Sunshine Coast where I took long walks with my grandfather. We would sit under grevillea and tea trees, eat red and green frog lollies, and philosophise about life. My grandfather taking on a family historian style would tell me stories of the past. As we walked along the banksia-lined track up to Battery Hill and Dickey Beach, we would pretend we were explorers encountering scary and exciting adventures along the way. My grandfather was my idol. Even now, when I see and smell the banksia and grevillea trees, it takes me right back to that time to recall those vivid and precious memories.

Poppy’s Walk is an illustrated children’s book that is suitable for male and female children aged 2 years to 13 years. Grandparents will relish a book to which they can typically relate and enjoy reading to their grandchildren. There really is something for everyone. I wanted to connect with people in a way that they could relate. Aside from the delightful illustrated story with soulful messages, Poppy’s Walk has over 95 educationally-based differentiated activities relating to the story. This book is a valuable learning tool spanning across all areas of the curriculum. Having a PhD and a Masters degree in Education as well as being a grandparent, I had to publish a book that was educationally advantageous.

Grandchildren provide love, vitality, optimism, happiness, youthfulness, and focus to the lives of grandparents. Grandparents offer maturity, knowledge, stability, and unconditional love to the lives of their grandchildren. Take some time to reflect about your own grandparents and the roles they brought to your family. Regardless if the involvement with grandparents was limited, positive grandparenting can bring joy and benefits to the lives of grandchildren, the parents and the grandparents themselves.

Dr Gail Crossley-Craven is a registered and experienced teacher who is available for: book talks, literary events, ‘meet the author’ events, book week events, all year levels writing workshops (Prep – adult), key-note speaking, presentations, seminars, and judging students’ writing competitions.

Contact details for Dr Gail Crossley-Craven are drcc@drcc.com.au; www.drcc.com.au; (Australia) 0419 764796
To Purchase: Contact Dr Gail Crossley-Craven directly for heavily discounted ($20) and signed copies or Xlibris LLC, Ph: 1800 455039; www.xlibris.com.au; Orders@Xlibris.com.au ISBN:
Softcover 978-1-4990-2125-7; EBook 978-1-4990-2130-1