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Hello, and welcome to another episode of a dad’s path podcast. I’m Will Bronstein. Today, we’re here with Greg Payne. He’s the host of the Cool Grandpa podcast. And I know, I don’t think any of you guys listening are grandpas. I could be wrong, maybe a couple, but you know, we target dads and there’s a obvious relationship interplay that happens between dads and kids and grandparents.
So I thought it’d be really helpful for me personally. But I think for a lot of you guys too, to talk about someone who’s an expert in grandpas and grandparenting and how that. can impact your kids and their relationship. So welcome Greg. Thank you so much, Will. I sure do appreciate this opportunity to talk to future grandfathers, get them while they’re young, you know, so I appreciate this opportunity.
That’s a great way of looking right. We’re not not grandfathers yet. Most of us, I would think so. Not yet in terms of being a grandparent. I mean, I wanted to jump in with, you know, as, as a parent, as a dad myself, how, like what activities, how do I encourage my parents if they were in that position?
to not get involved, but like what common challenges do you see with grandparents who are struggling with their grandkids and how can us parents help facilitate that to kind of put the question another way? Sure. Well, I appreciate the question. I think for the most part, grandmas have got locked in.
They’re ready to pounce as soon as they’re hearing a grandbaby’s on the way, they’re ready to go. I think sometimes grandfathers though can be a little bit more reserved that we’re not sure. Where we fit in with the expectancy with the first grandchild coming in And then with the new baby that’s arrived because it’s definitely Tends to be grandmas and mothers and sisters and you know, the females kind of take that over a little bit And I would say what fathers could do to help grandmothers and grandfathers, if they’re a little bit reserved, is give them the green light.
Be pretty explicit about it, being like, Hey, we want you involved. We want you here for the baby shower. We want you here for this. We want you here for that. And really kind of be very open about what the expectations are that you want. For the grandfathers and grandmothers to step into, because it helps us understand where some of those boundaries are, because if you’re telling me, Hey, we want you here for this, and we want you here for that.
Perfect. I’m all in. And then if you’re also suggesting that, Hey, we need you to hold back a little bit and let us just do this activity with our friends and family, then that also helps with that communication so that we know, you know, where the boundaries are, but then also. How can we jump in and fully embrace this activity?
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s great. I mean, perfect answer. And it’s in some ways, somewhat simple. Like, communicate is really what you’re saying. And that’s so true of everything in life, or so much of relationships. And, but it’s so simple, yet so difficult, and not easy to do clearly always. And especially when you’re in the midst of you know, a baby at home, or even a, a child growing up, you know, there’s just a lot on our plates.
We’re running around or feeling stressed and because the other word you used there, which I thought was really interesting, was expectations, you know, because that’s sort of the flip side of. boundaries in a way, you know, families want to have boundaries. You know, most families I talked to, like, you know, love having their parents close, but not too close.
But at the same time the flip side, as I said, is the expectation, right? Like I would like you to watch the kid more. I would like you to you know, why aren’t you going grocery, grocery shopping? I mean, you know, being a little facetious, a little bit explicit with those, but that’s the, I guess.
The flip side, I mean, how would you, how have you approached that? Or how have you talked to heard from other grandpas who approached that or grandparents where it’s more of the expectation side not being met than the boundary side? Yeah, I think the expectation side is what leads to a lot of frustration.
For both the, the, the parents and the grandparents because the grandparents may have a set of expectations where as soon as they hear the news, there’s a grandbaby on the way. Whether it’s the first or the, I’m being funny, the 31st, it’s, you know, Hey, we wanna be there for the baby shower. We wanna be involved in any of the You know, some of the pregnancy photos, you know, if you’re doing stuff like that, we want to be there for painting the bedrooms we want to be, and that can be a lot.
And so if the parents aren’t able to put up and manage the expectations of the grandparents, it can lead to a lot of frustration because the parents, I think, could feel like they’re just being run over. And it’s not that it’s because the grandparents are trying to hurt their feelings or trying to be that assertive, but it’s because the grandparents are in full go, go, go mode.
And that’s not necessarily what the kids have. And on the flip side, the grandparents and the parents of the adult children, we’ve got to be able to sit back and really ask the questions too. What do you need from us? What do you expect from us? Where, where are those boundaries? Because. Without those we could have our feelings hurt.
Maybe we want to be included, but they don’t, they don’t know that. So they’re not including us on the baby shower invites. They’re not including us in some of these things. And it’s that miscommunication. But I think if everybody can sit down and talk open and honestly, you can find that middle ground, that’s going to make people satisfied.
And, you know, that middle ground is going to mean that in a few instances, the grandparents may not get what they want. fully, and then on the other side, the adult children may not get what they want fully, but you find a happy medium that everybody can live with. Yeah. No, that makes a lot of sense. I like that.
I like that. And, you know, through all the, the grandparents, grandfathers you talk to, I’d be curious what are some of the areas where they were able to support their kids? Not their grandkids, but their kids in the process and not just the, you know, not just kind of kids with a baby at home, but even growing up and that’s, that’s sort of processing.
Yeah, that’s really run the gamut and it’s been really where the adult children are talking to the grandfathers about, you know, if they need support, if a child is born and there’s an illness or it’s premature. They may need grandpa to come in and do the day to day babysitting while the parents are focused in on the hospital activities and just focused 100% on getting that child well.
The other part of that too, is that being able to talk to those grandfathers. And see where they want to be engaged. Where are their strengths? Where, where can they add you know, this is all my business stuff, right? Where can they add maximum value to the family and where can they really shine while they’re building up and supporting those, those adult children?
Absolutely. That makes also make sense. I mean, it seems like it would be a challenge to strike the right balance or to maybe evolve, you know, from parent to grandparent. I mean, how do you strike that balance when you see your kid parenting or whatever, whatever it might be? That’s a good question.
Now I’ve got to tell everybody that I have two sons. And so I’ve got two awesome daughter in laws. So some of my reaction is going to be a little bit between what you kind of expect with a father and son. In that, at times, there’s a little bit of being able to call them knuckleheads and joke around with them a little bit.
Because I want to maintain some of that playfulness that we had while they were growing up. And use it appropriately. I’m not there to belittle them at all, but I’m there to help them out and, and coach them up and be that mentor role. I’m not there to tell them what to do and how to do it, but I feel like as a father to two grown sons, I can be a sounding board.
I can be that. Prism of, have you looked at it this way? Have you looked at it that way? How’s my experience with my friends that have gone through similar situations, how those outcomes been and, and lay out the possibilities, the opportunities that they have before them and then support them in their decisions and ultimately just understand their decisions are their decisions.
As much as we want to, you know, slap that hand away from a hot stove. even as adults, sometimes you have to touch the hot stove to really understand it’s hot. And that can be a struggle for fathers. Absolutely. That is, you know, if you can keep that mindset of being a mentor and and not jumping in the parent role, I think that’s, that’s great.
That’s really I mean, have you found, have there been specific boundaries or practices you found helpful when you wanted to jump in and then didn’t? Yeah. So what I’ve had to do, and even as my kids were married before grandchildren showed up, it was really asking them like, Hey, let me know what you need.
Let me know if I cross any boundaries because I’m still trying to figure out the relationship with the daughter-in-laws, right? We had a wonderful weddings, families met, all that stuff. I still don’t really know them that well. And they may not know my sense of humor, my, you know, what flip switches with me, what doesn’t, I don’t know that with them.
So I’ve got to confide in them, my sons, to say, Hey, let me know if I overstep here, let me know, you know if you need me to be more engaged. And so getting that feedback and being open and honest about it and, and understanding that sometimes feelings might get hurt. is part of you know, that relationship because families sometimes hurt each other’s feelings unintentionally.
Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, the, you know, you’re evolving, this relationship’s evolving from, you know dad, son to now being grandpa, parent, and to our point that we’ve been, you know, making that there’s a lot of changes that happen there. And I imagine that’s probably pretty challenging in some ways, but also pretty, pretty interesting.
I mean, has it, what, what, what, what are some of the emotions you felt watching your, your kids, you know, grow up and raise kids of their own? Oh, I’ve, I’ve been just really proud of them, how they’ve taken on this role of father and how they’ve had to manage some of their struggles early on in the marriages and early on in their adult lives.
I mean, my oldest is 31. My youngest is 29. Actually, no, I’m sorry. 32 and 29, but it’s been great watching them come through that process of seeing how frustrated they could get with the grandkids. When I know those grandkids are pushing buttons and doing all the things that my kids would do. Right.
Stomping the foot, hands on the hips. You’re not the boss of me. That sort of thing coming from a two year old that just absolutely frustrates the heck out of you. And then watching them having to develop a sense of patience and a sense of understanding, knowing when they have to kind of excuse themselves from the situation sometimes because it is so frustrating.
And just being super proud of how they’ve been able to navigate that role. And they’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s been great watching that maturity happen in those lessons, because that’s, that’s what life is about is that evolution of, of figuring out that. You can’t be a hot headed teenager all your life that you have to learn patience.
And that’s where children come in. They teach us patience. They teach us things about ourselves. And they teach us how to grow as parents. Do they ever? Yeah. Do they ever? No, it’s you know, it’s probably interesting seeing all the similarities. You know, going that you went through as a dad and now seeing your kids go through it a little bit.
Are you, I’d be curious if you’ve seen any sort of generational differences between, you know, your style of raising kids or theirs or anything that’s You know, kind of come up in that regard. I think we’ve been pretty fortunate where for the most part where we’ve seen our Adult children are parenting very similar to the way that that my wife and I parented we haven’t seen a lot of Gentle parenting is a, I think, a new philosophy.
Maybe it’s not that new, but it seems to be growing more and more. And it’s not that my kids don’t embrace aspects of that. But it’s not so different from how we, we parented the kids. They definitely will allow some things to go where we didn’t. But then there’s a strategy behind it. We ask the questions, you know, why are you doing that?
You know, it’s not just me and my wife looking cross eyed at each other on the couch going, Oh my gosh, we would never let the kids do that. Or we would never handle it that way. It’s more of a case of, okay, so how How, why are you handling it this way? You know, if it’s something that really pops up that, that is a head scratcher to us, we ask the questions, why are you doing it this way?
And the daughter in laws and our sons normally have a really good explanation that makes sense to us. It’s just, right. No, that’s great. It goes back to communication again. It goes back to communication. That’s great though. And also along the topic of communication is, I’d be curious, long distance grandparenting, right?
So some of us are fortunate to have, you know, some, some of our parents close by some, you know, or maybe it’s in laws close by but for those that don’t, what have you seen kind of work to help develop and grow those relationships or keep those relationships? growing as they evolve, right? As you’re becoming a grandpa, right?
I’ve been really fortunate to get attached to a group called the Long Distance Grandparent with Dr. Carrie Byrne and she actually has a group that’s focused on long distance grandparenting. Now there’s a lot that she talks about that I think some of us would just do naturally, meaning you have to be intentional with the communication with little kids.
They’re never going to reach out to you when they’re real little. I mean, once kids start to get those tween years and their own cell phones, you can start texting and communicating directly. But for a long time, it’s, it’s, Hey, mom, dad, can we jump on the computer and read a book with them this evening?
could because there’s a lot of applications out there to support long distance relationships. You can read books over the online with your grandchildren. There’s little apps that have filters so you can record messages and send them so you’re not reliant on a face to face real time communication.
There’s all sorts of little things that you can do. To stay connected. The biggest thing though, that I’ve had to learn is to follow up with the adult children, the parents, find out if those little video messages that my wife and I are sending, are those really meaning anything to the grandkids? Because you never get that kind of feedback, but they can tell you, the parents can tell you like, Oh, they really liked this.
They thought this was funny. They do enjoy having these little messages. They love having a reading time before bed. So when those get scheduled out appropriately, those can be really impactful. The other thing I would say, if you’re a long distance grandparent is don’t sleep on snail mail. And what I mean by that is that the little kids even starting around three years old, they know mom and dad go down to the, the mailbox, whether you’re an apartment building, your own house, you’re getting mail, most of it’s junk mail and bills and that sort of thing.
But when those little kids start getting a postcard. From grandma start getting a postcard from grandpa. That’s something that’s in that magic box That’s for them. And so what I’ve really started to do is Write a postcard monthly to my grandson. That’s four and a half and I’ll probably start This year, when my granddaughter turns three, starting to put a simple postcard in and I’m in, these are hard to find.
But if you keep your eyes open, you can find them and it becomes really meaningful to to them. And the feedback I get is this one went up on the refrigerator. This one went up on their wall in their bedroom. And so that’s a way to really build that connection with them. That’s fantastic. And you know, for the dads listening, we can encourage our in laws, we can encourage our parents with these ideas.
You know, postcards. Yeah, I’ve seen it firsthand and I’ve heard from a lot of other dads, like kids love it. Just a little letter, just a little bit, you know, and that’s a great idea. And then technology is spot on. We use it all the time. There’s apps literally where you can read. You know, through the app and you can turn the pages and your kid can see it.
I mean, there’s a ton of them out there. So but as dads, our job, I think, is to help encourage that and give that feedback. You know, like it’s you as a grandparent are making the effort. It’s our job to say, Hey, that’s really nice. Or hey, I’d appreciate it, you know, or I know my, my little girl would appreciate if you wrote a little letter, did whatever it was.
But again, going back to the communication is how we can, how we can make it make it real. Oh, absolutely. And if dads can really help us out by letting us know what’s kind of going on, that where the grandkids might not say something in a phone call or a video chat let us know, are they having a tough time in third grade for whatever reason?
Are they having a tough time with new friends? If you’ve just relocated something like that, that we can include in those postcards. And, and even in our conversations, we can share with them how tough it was when we moved, when our dads were in the military and we had to jump base to base all the time or, you know, whatever that is, if, if dads can definitely give grandmas and grandpas a heads up about what’s going on and slip us some information that just helps us with our communication to those grandkids.
Absolutely. Yep. Absolutely. Another topic I was curious about are, or is family traditions, the role of family traditions. And first I’d be curious if you have an example of a family tradition that’s been meaningful to your family that you’ve, you know, passed down that you’ve seen your kids start to do, or they’re going to do maybe.
Sure. Well, our biggest ones were trying to get everybody together for at least Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s really tough when the families start to separate out and everybody goes their own way, or if you’re a family that’s living away from your relatives. That can be really tough to get people all together.
But if you make a real effort, and my wife is the one that’s the champion of this, for sure, everybody needs to get together for Thanksgiving or Christmas. And there’s certainly exceptions when that can’t happen. And it may not be those two holidays. Maybe there’s another holiday that’s, that’s more meaningful to your family.
Trying at least once a year, if you can, to get everybody together for that meal is in taking pictures, making sure you’re documenting that is absolutely huge because it’s a way that you can connect as a family. It’s a way that you can really. See the growth of the, the grandchildren and it’s a way that grandpas, we can kind of pass the torch a little bit on some of these things to, to our sons, to the dads, right?
You know, I go back to Christmas vacation. You know, it’s, hey, grandpa, it’s here, carve the turkey. No, no, son, that’s your job. You know, some of that is real. I mean, we laugh at it, but, but the thing is, is that that’s real. That’s, that’s passing the torch as far as head of the household, head of the, the meal, whatever that might be.
So those are the two that we try to do for sure once a year is get everybody together. Do you have any advice or tips for, you know, blending traditions from different sides of the family? Or. Creating new ones. Oh, yeah, for sure. So I love talking and learning about my grant my daughter in laws by asking them these questions.
So when we’re together for Christmas or Thanksgiving or just a visit during the summer, it may be. So what did you guys used to do during the summer? What kind of vacations did you guys used to take? What were your family traditions? And then seeing if we can incorporate some of that because we Thank you.
found out that with one daughter in law Thanksgiving really wasn’t much of a thing. And that’s partly because she comes from Scotland and England. And that just wasn’t a thing over there. And her father was military. And so it just never was that big of a deal, but then there’s other holidays and other holiday traditions that were Huge and then learning some of the traditions that My other daughter in law who grew up kind of on the maryland pennsylvania border by the ocean You know, they had these low country boils.
They had all this these different seaside type traditions that we tried to Blend in whenever we get together. That’s awesome. No, that’s fine. That’s a great way to to create, to create those bonds, as you’re saying, as well. But it is interesting hearing about other traditions and seeing how you can incorporate them and while also making sure you sort of stick to your guns with the traditions that are really important to you as much as you can.
Like you’re saying, like, let’s make sure we have one family meal together, be it Christmas or Thanksgiving, but let’s commit to that, you know, to the extent We can. And I’d be curious, you know, being in the middle of parenting young kids, you know, feels like there’s a million things are going on. And the idea of being a grandpa to me is pretty foreign.
Like it’s just not in my head at all. So I would be curious, you know, kind of how you reacted when you found out you were going to be a grandpa, a grandparent. And if that sort of changed your perspective on anything. Oh, I love this question and I love it because this is the question that I lead off with on my podcast to other grandfathers.
And so my reaction is that it was Christmas time and my daughter in law and my son were, were down here in Georgia with us and they passed a final little card to, to us. And I was thinking it’s a gift card, you know, great. We got a hundred dollars to Red Lobster. Something along those lines, right? And it turns out to be a little ultrasound picture.
And so, of course, my, my wife goes crazy. She starts tearing up. And then my reaction of being, I was super happy for them. And then my mind went to a little bit of like, wow, I’m going to be a grandpa. This is going to be real. And I always thought I would be once my adult kids moved out and they got married and things, it’s like, okay, this is kind of the, the natural path of things.
And so it hit me that like, my responsibilities are really shifting, that I’m moving more into thinking about the future now, much more than I did, I think, as a father, I think fathers were locked into the day to day or, or let’s say tactical. Part of living, and I think as we start to get older, and as we become grandfathers, we start to think more strategically, what’s the long term ramifications of what we’re doing, what’s the long term planning, what’s the, how do we want family reunions to happen, how do we want these things to be, and then how, what kind of grandfather do I want to be?
And so all these questions were running through my mind, and I was just super happy because man, I felt like I was going to get some little kids that I was going to show them how to put a firecracker in a rotten tomato, you know, without mom knowing, like, Hey, kids, come on, let’s go do this, you know, all, all these things that I enjoyed doing with my sons and I enjoyed doing as a kid, I would, they’re in my mind, it’s like, I want to go teach them how to go fishing.
I want to teach them how to go hiking in the North Georgia mountains. I want to teach them all these different things and a little bit of mischief. I mean, grandpas ought to be showing a little bit of mischief with the kids. Safety first. But a little bit of mischief creates some great bonds with grandpa.
I love that. I love that. I have not done the tomato firecracker yet, but It gets messy. I’ll probably keep that one to myself. I don’t need that. Yeah, that’s hilarious though One last question for you here Greg. This has been super interesting. What would you tell? What would you tell, you know, your younger dad self?
You’re older now, you’re wiser, you’ve been through it, you’re now a grandpa. If you could just go in a room and give yourself a pep talk or a couple words, what would you say? Yeah, I think I would go in and tell myself to embrace this time. The cliche of that it passes so fast is absolutely true, not to be stressed out as much as I was.
If work is stressing you out to the point where you’re not enjoying life, enjoying your family, find something else to do. Go pump gas for a little bit until you figure it out if you need to, because your mental health and your spiritual health and all of that is more important than. Being super stressed out and being available 24 7 to somebody that doesn’t appreciate you that you know So so understand that that your family appreciates you and that you’re needed you’re valued Everything that you’ve gone through, all your bumps and bruises and, and wounds matter because that’s all wisdom that you can pour into your family and that you can use to support your family and your community.
So focus on things that make you happy. Don’t stress out so much and understand that you’re a value to, to your family and community. That’s fantastic. That’s kind of it. You can’t get your time back, right? You can’t get that time back. So I have to make the most of it. What a great way of putting it. And Greg, it was a pleasure.
It was a privilege having you on today. Again, Greg you can find them at cool grandpa. us or on his cool grandpa podcast. And for most of us as dads. I would say tell your dad. Let them know there’s a great resource out there because I know a lot, a lot I’ve heard from a lot of dads that they have challenges in this arena.
So it’s nice to hear that there’s someone who’s focused there and can address it. So thank you, Greg. Appreciate you coming today. Thank you so much. It’s been an honor being here. All right. Take care. If
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