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3.09.2011

Familiarity breeds more than just contempt

I have to agree totally with Tish's post yesterday. The wall of grandfather / child respect was never clearly established between me and the boys. Tisha always thought that was inappropriate and I agreed to a point. However, there was method to my madness. I did not simply decide to be the nice Grampy who lets them get away with anything. There were rules, they were always safe, and they treated me and each other well when we were together no matter how they behaved elsewhere.

It is true that familiarity breeds the prophetic "contempt" between those that are in authority and those under them. That includes teachers, parents, management, drill sergeants, marriage counsellors and a host of others. As a grandfather I did not see myself nor want to be in one of those roles. Familiarity also breeds friendship, intimacy, trust, and love. Because of that they could confide in me, trust that I would always look out for them with a warm heart and laughter no matter what had happened in their world and day. I established a line of respect that was more between friends that I made sure they didn't cross with each other, either.

If I hadn't been that way we would have had chaos in this house over the years. We would have been laying down the law, throwing anger and demands at them and had a relationship built on screaming angry negative attention for everything just as they did with their parents and other grandparents. Instead, we have had harmony and good feeling in this house whenever they visited, they cooperated freely with all I asked them to do, never wanted to upset or disabuse my good nature, always felt that I was giving each of them a fair deal, and loved to come and stay. We had our moments but calm and good moods was the norm.

By the same token, every time they've come to live here (and there are many) including this last one, they turned straight to me for guidance and answers. No matter what lousy living situation or domestic crisis they'd just come out of I could have them settled in and feeling safe on day one. Why? Because they trusted my friendship and our history of knowing they would do well by me no matter what. We could never have had such a good year this past year of transition if it hadn't been for the relationship I'd built with them. It would have been chaos and hell. It was tough enough as it was but without Grampy's magic touch we would't have anywhere near as much positive development and hard work from them to support and help make this new life succeed. We continue to do well because of it.

Tish and Buddy both know that. Tish also knows that I deserve more respect from them for all I do and there has been a downhill slide in the respect department. That is where I feel the new dynamic has come into play. Once they started to see me in the role of parent they began to develop defenses with me that they never needed before. They don't like some of the decisions I make, rub up against the not so great aspects of my personality on a daily basis and respond accordingly (if inappropriately). Being children they have to do what I say sometimes "just because" so after years of 'lovin' it', it gets on their nerves just as easily as they can mine.

It doesn't mean we've lost the trust and love from earlier times. But in our new roles, we need a little more distance, a little more hard work, and a lot more respect.