From the Acting Director

I have just started the most important job in my life and it is not the Acting Directorship of the Tasmanian Catholic Education Office. My wife Sharyn and I have recently become grandparents and we are very excited about our new grandson.

Each person brings their unique self to the experience of grandparenting. Factors which may influence grandparenting styles include: culture, ethnicity, gender, race, family traditions, family structure, and personal history. Researchers who study grandparenting have identified various styles. These styles include family historian/living ancestor, the nurturer, the mentor, the role model, the playmate, the magician, hero and, as a sign of the times, the passer on of the faith.

As the family historian/living ancestor, grandparents share the stories of the past. These stories may be about relatives, important events, family traditions, the grandparent's own childhood or the grandchild's parent growing up. As the stories of the family are passed on, the grandchild gains a positive image of aging and their place within the family. Grandparents and their stories can be the 'glue' which keeps the family together and contributes to family identity.

Grandparents who serve as nurturers provide encouragement and support to the family in times of crisis. Whether serving as the babysitter, the chauffeur, the confidante, or the caregiver, the challenge is to find a delicate balance between encouragement and control. Grandparents mentor by teaching, sharing skills and talents, providing advice and listening to their grandchildren. As a role model grandparents provide grandchildren with examples of hard work and family loyalty. You may not realise the influence you have on your grandchildren until you hear them repeat something you said or imitate something you have done. There are many areas in which grandparents serve as nurturers, mentors, and role models to their grandchildren.

The next three styles invoke the tender emotions of grandparents. Many grandparents thrill at the opportunity to be a clown or playmate with their grandchild. They speak with enthusiasm of time spent reading books, playing games, and sharing mutual interests with their grandchildren. Grandparents also play the role of magician. At young ages, grandchildren are mesmerised by tricks and will stare wide-eyed asking "how did you do that?" truly believing grandpa pulled a coin out of their ear. What a fun time to be a grandparent!

Grandparents also fill the role of hero. Although you may think of the word 'hero' in a different way, grandparents who always listen and who are consistently available to provide support are heroes. Grandparents may be the one a child turns to when they carry a burden too big to share with anyone else or they may serve as an emotional safety net to an older child when making an important decision.

What an important place they play in today’s modern society. I look forward to growing into the role and as I join the status of grandparent I grow in admiration and gratitude for the part they play in the lives of the students in our Catholic schools and colleges throughout Tasmania.

What a wonderful gift they are to us.

 

Seán Gill 

Seán Gill
Acting Director