When we raise our children, our concerns for their welfare are direct one to one. We care and advise as best we can and trust that they will be caring human beings in turn. We try to give them what they need by way of feedback and education and are not above making adjustments in our own goals and ambitions to see that they get what they need to be who they want to be.
The reward for this care comes when our grandchildren come along. We can hand over the day to day care to their parents and become part of the history of their lives, providing them with a touchstone and an understanding of where they came from and who came before.
I just spent a week doing exactly this on a visit with my grandgirls. When they left, I began to think what I would want for them in their lives as they make their choices.
My girls have an appreciation of the struggle that it took to set up a world where you could be what you chose to be as a woman, especially in the example of Malala after she was shot for going to school in Afghanistan.
They have an appreciation of politics in the world and a great affection for their adopted country of Ireland.
They have their own views on religion which may or may not change, but for the moment they certainly know the difference “between right and wrong” which was articulated for the whole family by their great Grandma Ross in no uncertain terms. She never explained what the difference was, just that we would recognise it when it came along. I didn’t believe her back then, but my confidence has grown in my own abilities to tell “the difference” and it is interesting to see that the girls have inherited this trait in a very practical way.
So – I would want for them a firm conviction of the “difference between right and wrong”. Their participation in “world awareness” projects in school enhances this knowledge for them.
I would also want them to have the belief in themselves that will let them do anything they choose, despite being “girls”, especially when they can tutor me how to message on my mobile phone and explain applications and programmes like Spotify. At the same time they are developing an awareness of traditional crafts and a special interest in performing music. This is a gap that I can fill for them in turn.
I am proud to be part of this lovely helix which loops round the generations and creates the consciousness and continuity which we call “family”.