Christian CoParenting, Founder/Executive Director
What are your favorite memories of your grandparents? Summer trips to the farm or family vacations at Christmas? Were they Thanksgiving dinners around a big table or attending Sunday morning church in a small one room church? Some of mine include yard sales with grandma, the smell of homemade tortillas and grandpa’s morning coffee percolating (remember the noisy coffee makers of yesterday?).
What will your grand parenting look like? What memories will your children (biological and step) remember forever? Most of you reading this might say, ‘What?! I only have toddlers or junior high children – I have not even thought about being a grandparent! That is so far in the distance…” For most that is probably true; but keep reading! I want to give you something to shoot for – an idea to tuck away for future pondering!
I met an amazing woman, Wanda, this week at a professional association meeting. She is a step mom who has been remarried for about 16 years. She has 3 children from her first marriage, one from her second marriage and her second husband has children from his first marriage as well. They are now grandparents whose children have grown into adults (biological and step) and now those adult children all have their own children. We began to share ideas about second marriages, coparenting, vacations and then our conversation led to a special story of unique redemption that I feel is critical to share…
Wanda and her husband, Troy, were planning to take their children and grandchildren on a cruise to Alaska as a family gift. They had spent over a year deciding what time of year to take the trip and they came to a conclusion that June would be best for everyone. About six months prior to the trip, Wanda’s biological children were talking about the cruise and Chuck (Wanda’s first husband) heard about the plans and inquired about the details. Chuck has been remarried for 10 years and he and his wife, Sue, have a total of 4 children and 7 grandchildren. (Are you confused yet?) To make a long story short, Chuck asked Wanda (his first wife) if he and his family could join her family for the Alaskan cruise so that the shared children and grandchildren could experience it together.
Now, at first reaction, this might sound odd; however, Wanda and Chuck have been coparenting for 21 years and have found that they can work together, be considerate and that their children (and grandchildren) benefit greatly! Wanda went back to Troy (her current husband) and asked if he would be comfortable with the situation and Troy agreed. The years and years of positive experiences in the day-to-day activities had given everyone a strong ability to work together and they all realized this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity for their children (since the parents/grandparents were divorced).
What a story of redemption and wonderful memories! The biological children and grandchildren as well as the step children and step grandchildren were all able to take the Alaskan cruise together and a total of 37 people shared a time of love and laughter that will never ever be forgotten. Wanda said they did some things all together, some as separate families, but it was a great experience for each person overall.
I share this story for the sake of ‘planning ahead’ for the future with your families. My hope is that as we each reflect on our own experiences and remember the fun memories of our own grandma and grandpa’s house, we will be intentional to make those same opportunities available to our children and our children’s children. None of this comes easy but with intentional communication and a great deal of creativity, we can all build towards healthy cograndparenting. Generations to come will reap benefits from our words and actions today.
“So let's not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don't give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” (Galatians 6:9 / The Message)