As a grandparent I am becoming more aware of how much the younger generation rely on our support.
How many of us undertake unpaid (I don’t want paying) childminding duties, toing and froing the little people from nursery, doctors etc.
I find it a joy to live for a short while in a child’s world where everything is perfect and there are no bad guys except those on the television.
But, of course, we as grown-ups know that the real world is so much different. Today’s world makes great demands on the time of young parents who often find it is necessary for both parents to work in order to provide a decent standard of living.
More and more responsibility falls on the oldies to set a good example, teach respect and basic good manners to our youngsters. We must take that responsibility seriously for, if we fail them, we fail society and that failure will become our legacy.
So, grandad and grandma, it is important we teach our grandchildren there are bad guys out there, not in a way that scares or frightens them, but through awareness, understanding and reassurance.
For example, when we teach a child to cross the road we make them aware of the dangers and ensuring they know the correct thing to do before crossing will build their confidence and their ability to deal with a relatively simple everyday task.
But we must also make them aware of the dangers such as talking to strangers, however friendly they may be. My grandchildren tell me they only talk to anyone if they (the children) are with a grown-up. Not a bad place to start.
Another example would be if someone was near the school gates in the morning taking photos, would you allow your child to speak with that individual, I don’t think I would. I would question their motives for being there at that time. There may be a perfectly genuine reason for their actions but we need to know what that reason is.
People may say all that stuff is mum and dad’s role to fulfil, but when you or I are charged with looking after our grandchildren it is our role too. So many dangers and temptations are waiting to lure our kids away, constant vigilance is key. In recent weeks we have read or seen on television some horror stories of acts of violence by young people not yet teenagers, but their lives and those of others are destroyed and often with tragic and permanent results.
We owe it to ourselves to protect our children and their children because they are our future, our legacy.
So next time that little person asks you a question don’t see it as an annoyance but a small person seeking reassurance and guidance.
Their love and trust is without question, return it in the same way. And don’t forget those hardworking mums and dads, they too need the wisdom of your years.
* Bill Morrison, Chairman, Doncaster 50 Plus group for over 50s