Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

My fight: Thoughts of a Grandparent

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As a grandparent, facing his mortality after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, I question what I should tell my grandchildren. Should it be that expected of me as a responsible citizen – or – should it be how I see the world with all the cynicism of having lived more than sixty five years.

I have had my share of the joys and the pains of growing older; the happiness and sadness of relationships; the rewards and the disappointments of a career; and the confrontation of my mortality or immortality … and I have drawn my conclusions.

Even though education of children is the responsibility of the parents, we grandparents have an obligation to teach them what we know as the wisdom of our experience needs to be evaluated and children need to understand our life references to make their own decisions.

Education of children is the responsibility of the parents

Parents are the first and most important teachers of young children but they are not the only ones. After the first few years, the children find new teachers at kindergarten and then at school where, whilst reinforcing or questioning that taught at home, they discover concepts that have never been broached by their parents.

This is where grandparents can help. We gave our children the standards by which they live and raise their own children. Undoubtedly, they have questioned our standards as their kids will do in the future. Learning the connectedness and continuity between the generations is possibly the greatest gift we can give them. The spirit of our forebears stays with us and comforts us throughout our own lives.

As grandparents, it is our duty to contribute to the education of our grandchildren.

Even though education of children is the responsibility of the parents, we have an obligation to teach them what we know because the wisdom of our age needs to be evaluated.

Grandparents are today’s conventional wisdom and should be consulted for the knowledge and understanding they can offer. They do not necessarily have all the answers but they can and do bring an alternate view that helps less experienced minds reach a sound decision.

Grandparents have made mistakes in their lives too and hopefully they can see the error of their ways to pass on considered opinions that help their grand children. That is wisdom.

We have lived our lives with a different set of reference points than those of our children let alone our grandchildren They will not understand the significance of 9/11 just as our own children cannot relate to the death of JFK.

Similarly, we are limited by our own experiences and those of our immediate families. Until our grandchildren learn that their future can be influenced, for the better or worse, by the decisions they make, they cannot become responsible adults in the community.

The most important reason we have an obligation to teach them what we know is because children need to understand our life references to make their own decisions.

There is nothing more soul destroying than watching someone close to you make bad choices that could have been avoided if only those that cared for them had stepped in and offered some sound advice.

It must be remembered that children are not self sufficient ‘little people’, they are in fact ‘big people on training wheels’ who sometimes fall over and need their injuries attended to. We never become truly independent as we constantly need the reassurance of those around us.

Medical science tells us that a child’s brain is not fully developed until sometime in their twenties. Until then, their reasoning abilities are questionable and they still need guidance in logical thinking and how their choices affect those around them.

As a result, the things they learn from their parents and grand parents set the standards they will live the rest of their lives by.


So you can see that although education of children is the responsibility of the parents, grandparents have an obligation to teach them what they know for two main reasons. First, the wisdom of their expereiences needs to be evaluated. But most importantly, children need life references to make their own decisions.

My contribution to the education of my grandchildren will be a series of memoirs discussing how I managed my life and where it might have been different. I can’t make them read these stories, I can only hope that they know how to access them should they ever want to know what their grand father thought about life.


Written by Greg Naylor

25 March 2009 at 5:09 pm

8 Responses

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  1. What a refreshing post. You are correct, you have so much to offer your grandchildren. They are indeed fortunate to be the recipients of your wisdom and experience.
    Take care


    25 March 2009 at 5:42 pm

    • Maureen, thanks for your comments. I had a look at your site, White Orchid. I see some common ground and have subscribed to your RSS feed

      Greg Naylor

      25 March 2009 at 7:03 pm

  2. As usual, mate, words of wisdom and you continue to be an inspiration.

    Best, JR


    26 March 2009 at 11:40 am

    • Hi Jim. Sounds like you need a bit of a cuddle with your health. Have one on me.

      Greg Naylor

      26 March 2009 at 12:17 pm

  3. Hey Greg, just dropped by to say hello. That’s about it… hope the garden is fairing well. Let me know if you want any more broccoli plants.
    sara xx

    sara lou

    26 March 2009 at 7:35 pm

    • That would be much appreciated as medical trials have shown broccoli is one of the good guys with prostate cancer. The next time Pauline heads that way, she can call around.

      Greg Naylor

      26 March 2009 at 8:19 pm

  4. no worries, be a month or so for the next lot to be ready. i’ll get in touch a little closer to time.

    I hope pauline’s knee is okay.

    cheers mate xx

    sara lou

    1 April 2009 at 10:36 pm

    • That’s good, Pauline’s knee is all better now> I will get organised tp plant a winter garden in the meantime.

      Greg Naylor

      1 April 2009 at 11:12 pm

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