GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019 - 28

legacy

Demystifying family relationships
BY JERRY WITKOVSKY

T

he dictionary definition of the word "demystify" means to
make something clear and easy to understand.
When it comes to family, de"mist"ifying may be the
better way to say it. I'm talking about that mist that can come
over family members when they get together. It might be the mist
through which one sees an adult child or grandchild as though
they are still an adolescent. Or maybe it's how the
younger generation sees a grandparent's limitations,
rather than strengths, because of age.

What keeps us from saying
what's in our hearts?

What happens when you clear the mist and demystify? What do you see? What do you see in your adult
children, your grandchildren, if you connect with each
other as fascinating strangers? What have you not
shared with them?

Move beyond stereotypes

Elders in the family can be regarded as the family
historian, the resident holiday chef or storyteller. While
those seem like perfectly wonderful things to be,
they may also be limiting. They can create a sort of
expert-novice hierarchy in the family.
Demystifying says everyone can share and have talents and knowledge to bring to the table. What are the
secret (or maybe not so secret) talents that each family
member can share?
In our family, my son Michael, the psychiatrist, is an
excellent chef. He happily claimed Thanksgiving after
my wife passed.
28 GRAND

JANUARY FEBRUARY 2019

Now each year family gathers from both coasts and in
between to travel to Madison for Michael's great feast. "When I
was younger, mom would cook, and I would help. Because she
was the mom and I was the kid." But roles in families don't have to
be so rigid. They can ebb and flow and flex, based on what each
individual brings to the table.

Draw from your own talents and
interests

A relatively new grandpa himself (his grandson, Aldo, is
almost two), Michael also plays guitar and sings. I encouraged
him to use that talent to connect with family. He has since
made videos of himself singing that his son Ethan plays
for the baby. This way then can still connect beyond
annual family gatherings, even though they are miles
apart.
With the ease of taking videos right from your phone,
why not record yourself reading a bedtime story and send
it to your younger grandchildren? Even better, tell them a
story about your life. Or make up a story.

"

"There's major transformation
that can happen here. And you
don't even need a lot to time to
train or prepare. This power is
already inside of you."

"

"A grandparent should never walk away from the
chance to engage their grandchild socially and academically," says Nick Stoyas, Associate Principal at Edgewood
Middle School in Highland Park, IL. The school recently
hosted their first Grandparent Connection School
Program. "Who is your grandchild's best friend and
why? What story is your grandchild reading in class, and
what is the plot? Never shy away from asking and being
more!"

Continued on next page


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GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019

Contents
GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019 - 1
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GRAND Magazine - January/February 2019 - 3
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