The following is in response to a recent “Graying New York” column about family dynamics between parents and their grown children
We hear many stories today of poor relationships between adult children and their parents and are told, as a result, the grandchildren of these older parents spend little time with their grandparents. By contrast, the television program “Blue Bloods illustrates a family where four generations of family members eat dinner together at least once a week. I regularly watch “Blue Bloods” and have seen that the older and younger members interact in other ways as well.
As a psychologist, I also value data and from my observations of family members and friends, I have found that many follow the “Blue Bloods” pattern. Additionally, in my book “Top of the Class” (Ablex, 1996), when I queried older high academic achievers, all members of Phi Beta Kappa, about their lives after excelling at college, I learned of their good relationships with their children and their grandchildren.
Some quotes: “My relationship with my children and grandchildren is very close”
“We took our children and grandchildren to Italy this past summer.”
“I have brought up two daughters and helped with advice and love with four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.”
Apparently, the skills necessary to succeed in school can be applied to your personal and social lives as well. These academic achievers also did well professionally.
Now to the relationships I have forged with my two daughters, their husbands and their children. Let me start by saying that my children were reared in a home with two working parents who were also able to spend a great deal of time with their children. I was fortunate that as a college professor, I did not teach five days a week and had the same vacations as my children, thus, giving me much time to be with them. My daughters and their families live in New York City and I interact with them regularly, including dinners and theater-going together. I have attended the graduations from public school, high school and college of my two older grandchildren, attended my granddaughter’s high school basketball games, and go to school assembly meetings when my youngest grandchild performs.
I have certainly done my share of baby sitting and my daughters have sought my advice re their child rearing practices. The advice comes from me as their mother although I believe having taught Child Psychology may contribute to the value of this advice.
From the time my oldest grandchild was four years old, my husband and I took vacations with him and his parents. When his brother was born, he was the fourth on these vacations. My younger daughter has two children and her family was added onto our joint vacations.
My husband has died but the vacations with children and grandchildren have continued. Last year on a trip back from London, my youngest grandchild, then nine, asked when we planned to return to London.
Despite these shared activities, we still do things independently of each other. I no longer teach psychology at Lehman College but my research and writings on the adverse impacts of noise on health keep me busy. I have had a very successful career but still believe my greatest joy has come from a wonderful marriage to a man who joined me in raising two terrific children who are still very much part of my life.