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Communication

family lettersThis is a mock letter which represents the feelings expressed to me by many parents whose adult daughters are unmarried and in their thirties.

 

Dear Daughter,

It’s not about you, it’s about me! I want to be a grandma. I know there are other ways to do it.

I could ask my neighbor if I could substitute for her parents who live across the country, and I do—but it’s not the same.

I could volunteer to hold sick babies at the hospital, but it’s not the same.

I could become a foster grandparent, but it’s not the same.

If you become a mom you will understand me better and forgive my imperfections, because you too will be an imperfect mom. Maybe you or the baby will need what I have to offer . . . love and support. Now I often feel you reject that in the name of independence.

Yes I would like to see you married. Not just to make a baby. In fact, sometimes in my loneliest hours, I think: “maybe it would be OK if you make a baby with technology.” I not only want a grandchild, but I want you to understand me, and I want to live on.

I am feeling vulnerable as I see my friends get sick I want to know you have someone to care for you. I still feel responsibility for you. I want to share that.

My development is arrested, I can’t move on to the next stage of life—the grandparenting stage—because, as in utero, our lives are still attached.

I love you as only you will only understand when you have a child.

Wanting the Best for You,

Mom

 

While you may think that we need to wait for others to make us grandparents, we can emotionally or legally adopt our own grandchildren. We can use our grandparenting skills by mentoring others, by volunteering, and by fostering. It may not be the same as being a biological grandparent, but it comes with its own deep bonds and joy.  

By Ruth Nemzoff

Author and Speaker: Don’t Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children

Don’t Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family

Resident Scholar

Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center

Religions Of The World SignAccording to a recent study for the Council on Contemporary families by David McClendon of the University of Texas at Austin, “there has been an especially dramatic increase in the proportion of couples where both partners maintain their own separate religious beliefs and practices. The proportion of marriages that remain interfaith has almost doubled, from a little more than 20 percent in the 1960s to around 40 percent by the first decade of this century.”

With the upcoming holidays of Easter for the Christians and Passover for the Jews, many grandchildren will be celebrating both holidays. More interfaith families with separate religions mean that more in-laws will find that their grandchildren are being raised differently from the way they anticipated. Grandparents can hold a grudge against their children for marrying outside of the religion, but that does little to educate their grandchildren about the beauty and worth of their own traditions. While this is painful for parents, if they want their grandchildren to respect their own beliefs, they must show respect for the other religion.

Already, many churches celebrate Passover, because its message of deliverance from slavery is universal. The Black-Jewish seder, the Irish-Jewish seder, are staples of the season. For many Jews and some Christians, however, the theme of literal resurrection is antithetical to their theology. That being said, many Jews are not religious; they identify as cultural Jews. And many Christians celebrate Easter even though they don’t believe in Christian theology.

Grandparents are wise to focus on sharing the joys they find in their own traditions rather than criticizing their children’s choices. Recognizing their children’s efforts to honor both sets of parents and both religions helps facilitate understanding.

All of us are learning to cope with a religious landscape that is changing. Change is hard to accept and to manage. Therefore, we need to be forgiving of each other. When family members appreciate each other’s efforts to please and accommodate, holidays go more smoothly.

Oh sure, there are the obvious reasons to look forward to March. That’s when most of us start having thoughts of spring (here in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), and if we live in frozen climates we may begin to cherish hopes of an imminent thaw. But there are five new reasons to look forward to March here on Mom Psych and it all begins with the fact that Dr. Ruth Nemzoff will be hosting our new blog, Grandma Psych. Why are we so excited about welcoming her to the Mom Psych family?

1.  Her research focus: A resident scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis and former adjunct assistant professor at Bentley College, Dr. Nemzoff is the author of two books focusing on communication and family dynamics.

2. Her education focus: After earning a degree in American studies from Barnard College, Dr. Nemzoff went on to pursue a masters degree in counseling from Columbia University and another in Social Policy from Harvard University, where she also earned her Ed.D.

3. Her public, professional, and service experience: Dr. Nemzoff has served as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, a grass roots organizer, a counselor, and as a professor. She has served on multiple boards, including that of NH United Way, NH Business Development Corporation, Boston’s Jewish Family and Children’s Services and of Newbury College. She worked with the NH Governor’s Commission on the status of Women, and Commission for the Handicapped. She founded a nursery school, a counseling service, and the National Women’s Legislative Lobby.

4. Her communication experience: A seasoned writer and public speaker, Dr. Nemzoff’s latest lecture circuit takes her to Asia. In addition to her two books, (Don’t Bite Your Tongue and Don’t Roll Your Eyes) she has published multiple journal articles about environmental advertising and women in business and politics. Her papers are archived at the Schlesinger Library, Harvard University. She is also a seasoned blogger.

5. Her personal experience: Dr. Nemzoff is rich in intergenerational relationships, with many in-laws thrown in for good measure.  Her life experience and natural personal warmth combine with an innate ability to translate the academic to the practical in an easygoing style. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for that: you can see for yourself as you enjoy the following interview with Dr. Nemzoff on Mom Psych’s Red Couch Sessions: