Updated: Sep 18, 2021
Besides us parents, should our kids have other role models in their life?
Consider grandparents for instance.
Grandparents play an important role in our children's lives. They are a visible window to the past, models of hard work and perseverance. Time spent with grandparents is often more relaxed, focused on play, reading books, walking, and learning new card games.
These past couple months I've seen grandma's relationship with my daughter take on an entirely new dimension—that of mentorship.
As much as we like to be everything to our children, we are slowly realizing that we cannot. There needs to be other people in their lives that they can trust, grow with, and learn from.
For a couple years now we, as parents, have been prodding and encouraging our oldest daughter, Winter, to learn how to sew with a machine. We thought that sewing was a skill that is great to have as a mother, and it could be a skill that could help her make some money. The whole idea of sewing for my adventurous, barefooted, tree-climbing daughter seemed drab, painful, and sleep inducing. That is, until grandma stepped in.
Grandma came up for a visit and brought material, patterns, and a passion for sewing. For two days I barely saw my daughter as she sat in her bedroom, with her grandma learning how to sew. When she emerged from the basement there was a huge smile on her face and a handful of products in her hands. With pride, she showed everyone what she made: a vanity bag, baby blankets, and bibs. And she was excited to learn more!
From here, the train began to pick up speed. Winter began to try new products, new patterns and different designs. She found creative ways to use her scraps. And most importantly, she and grandma now began to spend more time on the phone and on zoom discussing what each of them were making. Unwittingly, grandma had moved into a position of mentorship with my daughter, having an impact where neither my wife nor I were able to.
Allow me to share another example.
I'm currently working towards my doctorate in Theology, and as such, I have a bookshelf of books I've read and written about in my studies; there is much that I have to share. Yet, when I try to casually “host” a theology session with my son, well ... it lacks pizzazz. However, when my professor friend zooms with him and discusses theology, my son is all ears. He is engaged, comes to the table, and discusses what he has learned. I could read the same book with my son, ask the same questions, and assign the same homework, yet the impact would not be the same. Why is that?
These relationships came forward unexpectedly, and they have definitely made us, parents, think.
As much as we like to be everything to our children, we are slowly realizing that we cannot. There needs to be other people in their lives that they can trust, grow with, and learn from. As much as I’d like to be a renaissance man, the reality is that I can’t be everything and teach everything to my children.
I never actively pursued mentorship when I was younger so this is a bit of a new world for me. But I have to admit that I like it! It has added a dimension of parenting that I had not considered before.
Now, the question is, am I too old to be mentored too?
Kenton E. Biffert
Kenton is a writer and speaker, and works at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College as an adjunct professor and the Dean of Students. Together with his wife, they homeschool their 8 children, explore the wilds of Ontario in the canoe, and read voraciously. To learn more about the art of fatherhood, visit Kenton's personal page.