Get The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection now in time for Father’s Day!
Google ‘grandma’ and you get 113 million results; ‘grandpa’, only 63.5 million. Both numbers are astronomical, but in the world of kids and cuddlies, women still rule.
(see original article here: http://patch.com/illinois/deerfield/using-your-secret-executive-grandparenting-power-enrich-whole-family-0 )
But, the truth is, being a grandparent tugs at grandpa’s heart as well.
Deerfield resident and author Jerry Witkovsky remembers the first time he saw his granddaughter Katie. As he looked through the nursery window at the rows of babies swaddled in their pink and blue blankies, he saw Katie and tapped on the glass. Suddenly one of her arms escaped from her blanket bundle, eyes opened and to this day he swears it was a wave hello. That was it. He was hooked.
“One of the greatest joys of retirement has been the gift of time to participate in my grandchildren’s lives—to play board games with the, cheer them on the sports field, pick them up from school and more. It’s been a win-win all around,” says Witkovsky.
But Witkovsky, a longtime social work professional and grandparenting activist, also became interested in the power of grandparents to transform families and bring families closer across the generations.
“I’ve spoken to so many grandparents who say they feel like their role is to ‘open wallet and close mouth,’ or others who struggle with staying close to their grandchildren when their relationships with their adult offspring is stuck in an unforgiving past.” It was these challenges, as well as a desire to leave a legacy of “values, not just valuables,” that motivated Jerry to write The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection.
Witkovsky, a longtime executive leader, including 18 years as General Director of Chicago Jewish Community Centers (in 1995, Jerry was named one of the city’s “Most Effective Nonprofit CEOs” by Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine) felt he had missed some of the special moments during his parenting years when he was engaged in demanding work that required long hours away from home and family.
In The Grandest Love, rather than relegating his board room experience to the realm of work, he applies it to family, with “how to” ideas, activities and journaling exercises to plan Family Meetings or create a “Living Legacy Foundation.”
Family meetings, which take place once or twice a year when parents, cousins and siblings are all together at holiday time, are modeled after his experience in management: he will often send an agenda ahead of time, each member gets a chance to share a quick update or status report from the last year (usually in the form of a story.) “And we always have snacks,” says Witkovsky, noting that can help the youngest participants stay engaged. A guide to setting up meetings, having a conversation about a family vision and more are outlined in the book, for others to adapt to their own family.
The Witkovsky Living Legacy Foundation, despite its name, is not a formal, legal entity, but more of a practice. It is funded by Grandparents (aka Jerry) and the grandkids are the Board of Directors and decision makers. No parent or grandparent sits on the Board. Grandchildren can present proposals for funding to their fellow siblings and cousins.
Sample requests might be funding to support a study abroad trip, or maybe money for a business start-up, or new technology. Any grandchild applying for funding makes their appeal to their peers. Once the grandchildren approve a request, it goes to the grandparent for funding. (Grandparents do not have veto rights!)
The only requirement, if a project is funded, is that each recipient must make a report about the outcome at the next Family Meeting. “So we all learn together from the investment,” says Witkovsky.
“What did I hope to achieve with the Witkovsky Living Legacy Foundation? I wanted siblings and cousins to stay connected and to have them share their dreams—their passions and ideas with each other. By doing this I hope they can contribute ideas to enhance each other’s thinking. By being the Board of Directors of the Foundation, I saw it as a way to help the whole family stay connected.” As far as how much a grandparent funds each year that is a personal decision, but a step-by-step guide on how it works is also outlined in the book.
Part how-to manual, part workbook, The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection also features affecting personal accounts by grandchildren (of all ages and backgrounds) that illuminate the universal truths, struggles and potential of intergenerational relationships…The Grandest Love will help you make the most of the family you’ve got.
It’s a perfect gift for any Grandpa—new or seasoned–for Father’s Day, to let him now you want him involved in his grandchildren’s lives. Learn more or buy the book at www.thegrandestlove.com.