You Are More Than Grand: Social Wellness for Grandparents

Friendship IRL Podcast - Episode 55 - Social Wellness for Grandparents

Podcast Description

When DeeDee Moore became a grandparent, she had a hard time finding resources that would help her with the transition. 

So, she created one: More than Grand – which has online and downloadable content – covers topics that matter to parents and grandparents, from finding meaningful ways to connect to the latest trends in childcare.

DeeDee joins us today as we talk about the importance of diversity in grandparent relationships. What kinds of support do we need in this season of life? Who is the best person for that? Sometimes it’s children or grandchildren – but sometimes it’s not!

So often people think the answer to better social wellness is to whittle down connections. I think the opposite is true; the more we cut connections, the more pressure there is on the select few to fulfill ALL our social needs. We are unique, dynamic people that deserve to have social connection in a variety of ways.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • More Than Grand, which focuses on helping parents and grandparents communicate better with each other and transition new grandparents into their new role
  • What is being a grandparent? What have we been told by society that grandparenting entails, and how are some of those messages harmful?
  • How the hyper-focus of being a grandparent can put a lot of pressure on children and grandchildren to fulfill ALL social wellness needs
  • The lack of control we have regarding whether or not we become grandparents – and other ways to get the “grandparent” experience
  • Navigating the grandparent/adult child relationship, which changes when grandchildren arrive, and the importance of sharing expectations with each other
  • Mixing family and friends at gatherings and the importance of being open to letting go of old traditions and embracing new ones

Reflection Question:

Are you a new parent or new grandparent? If so, what were the expectations you had of what the grandparent/parent/grandchild dynamic would be like? Are there any techniques discussed here you will try out to create better relationships?

Notable quotes:

“What is the grandparent experience? I think that there’s this misconception that somehow when we become a grandparent, we have this license to do what we want: to indulge this child, to spoil them, to ignore all the rules. All so that we can fulfill this idea we have of being some sort of cross between a fairy godmother and I don’t know what. It’s just the idea that when we’re a grandparent, it’s all about our experience. That’s a really dangerous, dangerous way to approach it. Because being a grandparent is all about your place in the family and the things you can do for your family. It’s not about you.”

“I can’t stress enough how important it is for grandparents to remember that there’s more to life than grandkids. I read a really sad comment by somebody on a grandparenting forum once when they had been asked by their son to not buy so many presents for Christmas. He said, ‘No more than two. That’s it. You cannot do what you did last year.’ And her response was, ‘But buying presents for my grandchildren is my favorite hobby!’ And I thought, oh, sweetheart, you need some other hobbies. You can not make your whole life about your grandkids. Find some volunteer work. Go read stories at the library to other people’s grandkids. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t involve spending all of your time, money, and energy on your grandkids.” 

Resources & Links

Learn about More Than Grand through DeeDee’s website, Instagram, and Facebook, and check out DeeDee’s New Grandparent Essentials kit. 

See the relationship framework about the types of friends and the roots of connection in your life that I mention in this episode. For even more on this topic, check out Episode 12 of this podcast!


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Episode Transcript

Podcast Intro/Outro  00:02

Alrighty, gang. Here’s to nights that turn into mornings and friends that turn in family. Cheers!

Podcast Intro/Outro   00:18

Hello, Hello, and welcome to the Friendship IRL podcast. I’m your host, Alex Alexander. My friends… They would tell you; I like to ask the hard questions. You know who I am in the group? I’m the person that’s saying, “Okay, I’m going to ask this question, but don’t feel like you have to answer it.” And now, I can be that friend for you, too. 

Alex Alexander [Narration] 0:51
Today, we are talking about mostly familial relationships. Don’t worry, friendship and community are tied in here, too. Now, if you’re wondering why we’re talking about familiar relationships on a podcast about friendship, well, it is because I firmly believe we need to stop separating our familial relationships, and our friendships and our community and our romantic relationships and seeing them as separate silos. What we need to do instead is look at the cumulative impact of all the relationships in our life. We need to consider the types of support we need, the season of life that we’re in. And who is the best person for that? Like, do we have people for that? And those people might be family, they might be community, they might be friends, and going out there and filling in any areas where we don’t have the people. Quite often I think the answer is to add connections, which, if you’re listening is very opposite from most messages we’re getting out there about community and friendship and connection. There’s a lot of messages saying, cut it down, cut them out, whittle it down. And my question to that is, is that really the best way to go about it? Because the more we cut down our connections, the more pressure there is on those few that are left to fulfill all of our social needs. And we are unique, dynamic people that deserve to have social suppor,t social connection, in the variety of ways that make each of us who we are. Now, I’ve given you my big long explanation. But today’s episode is with Dee Dee Moore. I found Dee Dee through her online content. She has an Instagram page, a website, resources, all the things for grandparents. You see, Dee Dee has spent 20 plus years as a military wife. And so, she convinced herself that she could do anything she set her mind to. When she became a grandmother and couldn’t find a website with the kind of resources that she wanted, she started one. Dee Dee founded more than grand as a way to share inspiration and resources for grandparents who understand the importance of their new role and want to invest in strengthening family bonds. Dee Dee covers topics that matter to grandparents, and parents, such as concrete ways to help new parents, understanding new trends and child care and meaningful ways to connect with your grandparents. I found Dee Dee’s content online. And even though I don’t have any kids, and I’m not a grandparent, I love seeing her content. Dee Dee is very focused on finding the common thread for grandparents and parents to supporting those relationships. And you’ll find a lot of resources and information from Dee Dee, specifically about being a grandparent. But when I approached you to be on this podcast, I said, hey, something I’m hearing from a lot of people is that there’s a lot of pressure on this idea of being a grandparent. And I want to talk about how I think adding a… building a social fabric outside of your role of the grandparent supports your role as a grandparent, supports you as a person, a human, that dynamic, unique self so that when you show back up for your grandkids. You have this stable foundation of all the other people and you can pour into your grandkids. And when I told Dee Dee that, she immediately said, “Yes, I want to come on the podcast.” So that is what we’re talking about today. Hey, let’s get to today’s episode.

Alex Alexander 5:03
Hi, DeeDee. I am so excited that you’re here today. I think this is going to be such a great conversation. Thanks for being here.

DeeDee Moore 5:11
Thank you so much. I’m excited too, I am always happy to come and talk about how we can make our relationships better.

Alex Alexander 5:19
And I think this is going to be a fun episode, you know, I talked so much about how we need to be looking at kind of our cumulative social wellness situation, how quite often there’s this focus on like family versus friends versus community as if they’re all separate. And I really firmly believe that, like, what is happening in one is affecting the other. If you wish, there was something different in one of those categories, you might be able to look for it in another category. So, it doesn’t have to be just one or the other. And that’s why I think talking about family is just as important as friendship, it’s incredibly important to look at them all together. Can you tell me… not me, I know. But maybe I’ll learn something new. Tell our audience today a little bit about More Than Grand, your platform, what you’re doing.

DeeDee Moore 6:23
So I started More Than Grand about four years ago now. And I think of it as a bridge from parent to grandparent. We not only help parents and grandparents communicate better, but we help grandparents, as they transition from being a parent to being a grandparent. It’s not an easy transition. And it’s especially difficult when you are forming new relationships with your adult kids as they become parents. So there’s a lot to learn, and a lot of mistakes to make if you’re not careful. So we try to help you navigate all of that and keep those relationships really strong and healthy.

Alex Alexander 7:06
I found out about your platform through our mutual online friend, Janelle Marie, who talks about strained family relationships and how to better communicate. And she reposted something of yours I’ll never forget. And I opened it up. And I just thought to myself, oh, my gosh, somebody is talking about this. Because I see your platform, kind of like mine, it’s a topic that we need to be having more conversations about, but there aren’t that many people openly having them.

DeeDee Moore 7:37
Correct. And it’s been really eye opening. To me, I have really great relationships with my in laws, with my daughter in law with my family. And it’s been really eye-opening to see how many people need… need to know how to navigate that and make those relationships better.

Alex Alexander 7:58
Yeah, I just really appreciate… you know, I’ve been following you for a while. And I’m not a grandparent by any means. But I really enjoy seeing your content. I really like watching the conversations you’re having, maybe the thought process that my parents generation is having, what they’re going through, like it can’t hurt to think through that, even if I’m not having to navigate that at the moment.

DeeDee Moore 8:33
Right. And one thing is, you know, it’s a relationship like any other. So a lot of the advice that I’m giving is just basic relationship advice, you know? Communication, respecting the other person’s perspective. Those are all things that are valuable in any relationship. And I think grandparents sometimes feel like they’re having this grandparent experience that is divorced from the actual relationships within the family. And that can get in the way.

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Alex Alexander 9:02
Okay, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Go a little deeper on that. Because that’s gold. What you just said is so good.

DeeDee Moore 9:10
It was actually somebody’s comment on one of my videos, and they said, “Oh, our children can’t understand what the grandparent experience means.” And I thought, what is the grandparent experience? I mean, I think that there’s this misconception that somehow when we become a grandparent, we have this license to do what we want to indulge this child to spoil them to ignore all the rules, all so that we can fulfill this idea we have of being some sort of, I don’t know, it’s cross between a fairy godmother and… and I don’t know what but, but it’s just the idea that when we’re a grandparent, it’s all about our experience. That’s a really dangerous, dangerous way to approach it. Because being a grandparent is all about your place in the family, and the things you can do for your family, not about you.

Alex Alexander 10:15
I can just like imagine, as you’re saying that all the people that are pulling up your social media right now and hitting follow, because I think… and again, I say like, I think you and I have a lot of overlap, obviously, on slightly different topics, but it’s the same idea. It’s like, somehow the societal narratives of what this relationship looks like, have gotten really, out of hand and extreme and what is like, the experience every once in a while, that’s like that peak experience maybe, is now seen as like how it should be all the time. And that’s just not sustainable. You know, for me, it’s kind of that idea of like that one best friend or that peak, perfect friend group. And for you, it’s this idea of this…

DeeDee Moore 11:11
Just over indulging your grandchild and getting to do all these fun things and being the grandparent who swoops in with adventures and Gifts Galore. And, and you’re right, that is the message that society gives you. I mean, if you look for grandparent quotes, it’s all about, you know, spoiling your grandchild and, you know, grandma’s house, grandma’s rules and things that that are really, really destructive to the relationships within the family.

Alex Alexander 11:40
And then I think what happens is, in both cases, but especially in the grandparent one, you spend all this time envisioning and like waiting, and you’re being so excited for this experience, that it’s almost like pent up, this is kind of what I see sometimes is when you do get that first grandchild, it’s almost like it kind of explodes, which I think makes it even more intense is that there’s not necessarily a subtle entry into it. Right?

Dee Dee Moore 12:18
Right. Especially for those grandparents who have been waiting a long time to become a grandparent, I didn’t have that experience myself. I still had a child at home when I became a grandparent, so… so there wasn’t that lag. But if you’ve been watching all of your friends become grandparents and listening to their stories about the things they’re doing and seeing their pictures on social media, you cannot wait to get your turn. And so I think that you’re right. There is this pent-up excitement. And it’s, it makes it harder for grandparents to listen to what parents need from them. Or to respect what parents have asked when their idea of what a grandparent should be has been built up already by what they see on social media.

Alex Alexander 13:06
Again, so many people are going to be nodding, very intensely to this episode. Now, what I really want to talk about today is kind of this idea that grandparents, again, there’s so much focus on this one area of life, when you reach that stage, when your kids are out of the house, especially. And you’re waiting, and you have this vision of what it’s going to be like, and how sometimes it seems and I hear from other friends and I don’t have kids, but I have a lot of friends who very openly discuss kind of navigating this grandparent transition. And there’s so much focus that it kind of feels like that is all the grandparent… that that’s it. That’s a lot of pressure on this one relationship. Can you talk a little bit about that and your take on that?

DeeDee Moore 14:16
Well, I think it goes back to the idea of this grandparent experience. If you’ve been waiting to become a grandparent and you’re excited about the experience of being a grandparent, you may be forgetting about all the other parts of your life that can bring you fulfillment. And I see it a lot in grandparents, especially those who become a grandparent at the same time that they retire. And those things very commonly happen at the same time.

Alex Alexander 14:43
They’re planned to be at the same time. Like, I know, my grandfather’s… my grandfather retired around the time that I arrived. Yeah.

DeeDee Moore 14:52
Exactly. Exactly. So it’s natural for those people to want to fill their life with this exciting new aspect of life. And it can lead to a lot of problems. And I know that hyper-focus on being a grandparent to the exclusion of the other parts of your life really puts so much pressure on parents to be constantly fulfilling what you need as a grandparent, because you cannot be an enthusiastic involved grandparent, without the parents being on board with that, right? They’re the ones who have to navigate the time that you want to spend with the child. They’re the ones that have to deal with all of the gifts that you’re buying for the child. You know, all of those things require the cooperation of the parent, and that’s asking a lot of them, for them to be responsible for your happiness by facilitating this relationship. So, you know, I can’t stress enough how important it is for grandparents to remember that there’s more to life than grandkids. I read a really sad comment by somebody on a grandparenting foru once when they had been asked by their son to not buy so many presents for Christmas. He said, “No more than two. That’s just it, you cannot do what you did last year.” And her response was, “But buying presents for my grandchildren is my favorite hobby.” And I thought, oh, sweetheart, you need some other hobbies, right? You can not make your whole life about your grandkids. So find some volunteer work to do. You know, go read stories at the library to other people’s grandkids who don’t have a grandparent around. There are plenty of things that you can do that don’t involve spending all of your time, money and energy on your grandkids.

Alex Alexander [Narration] 16:51
Fun fact, the episodes that I do about social wellness, and boomers, Gen X, silent generation are some of the most talked about episodes. And I don’t necessarily mean that in a good way. These episodes are some of my most shared, some of my most listened to, some of my most commented on, and people have a lot of feelings. Of every generation, people have a lot of feelings. The reason I’m saying that is, one, I know that I’m going to have people that are in my generation, like millennials and younger, who listen to this episode and are nodding their head yes. Because previous comment sections have told me that a lot of people identify with this. This like pressure on them and their children to fulfill social needs. So, I know that. But two, I have a lot of very defensive people in that Boomer, Gen X, silent generation that show up and get really upset. Why am I acknowledging that? Because I want to tell you that if that is you, and you are frustrated by this episode, somebody told me once that the overarching theme of my message is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. And I have other episodes that talk about this when it comes to having one best friend or relying solely on your romantic partner to fulfill all your social needs. In this case, adult children and grandchildren. Everywhere throughout my entire platform, the underlying message is, build yourself a broader support network, focus on the cumulative impact of all your people. And at the end of the day, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Because nobody, no one person, no small family unit can fulfill all your social needs. And you are a unique person who deserves a variety of people that can show up for you in all the ways that make you unique. And therefore, in every age, in every category in every way, my message stays the same. So if you feel like this is an attack on you, I just want to tell you, this message is everywhere in my material. So in all the ways, please focus on the impact of your cumulative support system. And do not put all your social needs on one person or even honestly just one or two. That’s a lot of pressure. Now with that, back to the episode.

Alex Alexander 19:40
We have hit on so many things I want to dive deeper into, I am on board with everything in this conversation. But this is something that I wanted to bring up so I’m just gonna bring it up now. The unique thing about the quote-unquote, “grandparent experience” is that you don’t have any control over it. You don’t have any control over whether or not your kids have kids, whether you will be a biological grandparent, you don’t have any control over when that will happen. And there’s obviously a lot of conversations out there about, you know, like, stop pressuring, it’s not fair, things like that. And I am always thinking about this, which is like, if you want the quote-unquote, “grandparent experience”, there are so many kids out there who could use that kind of grandparent-like connection or mentor or community member. And, and that’s, I think, something you can control. You can put yourself in places like you were saying, you can go read stories at the library. You can… like there are places you can go and volunteer to help babies that need overnight care.

DeeDee Moore 21:03
And those exist in almost all communities, there is something. You can go hold babies in the NICU, you can become a big brother or big sister, there are even surrogate grandparent organizations. There are so many ways you can get involved if you’re willing to look around and do that. And the kids need that.

Alex Alexander 21:26
And the kids need that. And an example that I give all the time also, like those are all obviously, maybe more formal organizations. But there are probably kids that live around you, that live down the street, where you could be the last minute, can you watch my kids for 20 minutes while I run to the store. You can be the person that when they’re running late, can go over and meet them at the door, when they get off the bus and realize their parents aren’t home. You could potentially be people who are invited to a Sunday dinner.

DeeDee Moore 22:02
Yeah, you could be the person that shows up a half an hour before dinner time and reads and plays with the child so that mom can get dinner on the table. There are so many ways you can help those young families in your community.

Alex Alexander 22:15
Yeah. And I just think about that all the time. Because I obviously am in this prime age where a lot of my friends are having kids and I am hearing all these conversations where people are screaming, like, where’s my village? Where is my help? Where’s my support? And if you don’t live near family, even if you do live in mainly the same town, you could still be people that live two doors down. Like the opportunities are out there to be impactful in kids lives. Like, is that what you want? That’s my question.

DeeDee Moore 22:56
Or do you just want photo ops to post on Facebook to keep up with your friends?

Alex Alexander 23:04
Okay… real questions.

DeeDee Moore 23:08
Because I’ve seen parents who, who feel like that’s what the grandparents in their child’s life are doing. They don’t want to come and help. They don’t want to be there for the times that they need them. They want to come in and take pictures so they can put them on Facebook, and then they’re not even really interacting with the child. So, you know, obviously those are the exception, but they do exist.

Alex Alexander 23:34
I know people who have that exact complaint.

DeeDee Moore 23:37
Yeah, yeah. And it’s just disheartening to me to know that there are so many young families that don’t have the support of the elders in their family, who may or may not have had that support when they were parents. I mean, I know that my husband was in the military, we never had family anywhere nearby. But I also knew that they would be there if they could. And that, you know, if there was some situation that I could count on them, they certainly… when we did see them focused on interacting with the children and, you know, granted, we didn’t have Facebook for them to post pictures with their friends, but it really has changed and I will lay a lot of that on social media. I mean, I do think that it was a different story when grandparents took pictures of their grandchildren, and later showed them to their friends in their wallet. But it’s… you know, it’s different when everybody is sharing those things all the time. There’s that need to look like you’re as an involved grandparent as everyone else. You want to look like you’re keeping up, having that grandmother experience .

Alex Alexander 24:49
That is the real stuff DeeDee. I was expecting you to say that and I love that you did. Because, again, I hear from a lot of people that they have had this experience. Now, I also have plenty of friends who have very active, very involved, very lovely grandparents, but it is… yeah, it’s quite the spectrum of experiences.

DeeDee Moore 25:09
Absolutely. And I do think that one of the things that’s really key for all parents and grandparents is to just make sure that you have shared what your expectations are, because a lot of grandparents may not realize that parents had hoped that they would be more involved, that parents had hoped that they would be able to, you know, whether it’s, you know, babysitting once a week, or, or more, grandparents don’t know that if parents haven’t conveyed that. Knowing on the flip side, parents may not know what grandparents were hoping to get out of this relationship. So, you know, it’s so important to share those expectations. That’s how you avoid disappointment, right?

Alex Alexander [Narration] 25:54
If you have been around for a little while, you’ve heard me talk about my roots connection framework. If this is new to you, it is on my website, on my social media, I even have an entire podcast episode, episode 12, that breaks this whole thing down. I’m gonna give you a very abbreviated explanation right now, which is that this framework, think of your relationships, any relationship as a tree. And as this tree grows, it develops roots underneath, and those roots are what’s holding it up right, holding it together, keeping it alive through the storms, and the rain, and all that kind of stuff. Well, every tree starts out with very few roots, and you grow more. And as more grows and get longer, some gets stronger, some die, some wither, they’re constantly changing. And that’s how our relationships are. Now I have three types of routes. Again, go listen to the episode. But the reason I wanted to mention this is because one of those routes is what I call a story route. These are our beliefs and expectations. And they hold our relationships together because we have a belief. And that will be the reason we initiate contact or send, I don’t know, a gift or a message or show up for something. Because we believe they care about me or they are my friend. Now, there are beliefs such as we are family. As you’re listening to that, whatever that belief means to you, you have expectations that come along with that. Some of them probably are your own. But these big ones like, we our family, has expectations that also come from like societal messages, media, observations from other people’s familial relationships. And sometimes these relationships meet expectations, and sometimes they don’t. Now, they are my grandparents, I understand that like a little kiddo isn’t gonna get this. But when somebody gets old enough, teen, young adult, older adult, whatever you have these expectations of you are my grandparent, whether you meet them or not, it’s going to impact your relationship. Now, one of the things here is that quite often, especially these beliefs that we hold that have like societal messaging, we sometimes aren’t talking about what our expectations are, which is, again why I’m pointing this whole thing out is because that’s what Dee Dee is talking about here. When you say, you are the grandparent, it’s really honing in on like, what are the expectations here to support that belief to give it evidence, to make it feel true. And I think, in situations like we are family, you are my parent, you are my grandparent, we don’t always talk about what those expectations are. But we can. And the more specific we make the expectations, and the more we negotiate them to be in a way that feels right to everybody, the more likely it is that those expectations will be met, that beliefs will be supported. There will be a nice, strong root that helps hold up that relationship.

Alex Alexander 29:30
And just have those conversations. I think you’re very right. And I think… I think that grandparents obviously… I mean, a lot of people default to grandparents. Other people maybe have their walls up because they’ve heard how out of hand things can get. The reason I’m thinking through that is because as somebody who sees myself as currently, like currently, we don’t have any kids, kind of that like anti role for a lot of kiddos and trying to be really mindful, like I want to be active in the kids lives, like I care very deeply about that. I just know that sometimes I have to maybe voice that I want to be active and offer ideas for how I can show up multiple times to my friends. Because there’s a lot of like, oh, well, you don’t really want to do that. Like, if you did it, you wouldn’t want to do it. You know? You really want to babysit on Saturday night? You know, like, they almost don’t believe me. And I think they maybe do believe grandparents a little bit more. But I guess like, as someone who’s not a grandparent, I think you kind of have to suggest multiple times, sometimes. Parents are so…

DeeDee Moore 30:44
Yeah, I mean, there is so much to figure out as a new parent, figuring out how a grandparent is going to fit into the equation should not be your responsibility. So it’s, again, a communication, talk about it, talk about what you want to do, as a grandparent, how you want to be involved, and share that with parents and parents, you know, it’s important for you to share also, and to listen to one another, right? Because so often these things are said, but we’re not always really good at listening. So that’s, you know, same as any other relationship. That the communication is the key to making it work.

Alex Alexander 31:23
Do you have any other tips on how either grandparents might go about that conversation? Or parents might ask grandparents to like try and get the conversation started?

DeeDee Moore 31:36
Exactly. Well, I do have an entire guide available for sale on my website.

Alex Alexander 31:43
Look at that. Send people there, we’ll put that in show notes.

DeeDee Moore 31:46
It’s called New Grandparent Essentials. And it includes a guided conversation, to talk about all the things that end up impacting the grandparent parent relationship. And it has a whole bunch of other stuff in there, too. I won’t go into detail. But the key is to have the conversation early, to have it in a neutral place, to have it over a meal, or in the car, you know how great those conversations are when you don’t have to look at each other?

Alex Alexander 32:15
The shoulder to shoulder help sometimes. Yep.

DeeDee Moore 32:17
Exactly. You know, it’s like any other conversation, that could be difficult. You want to approach it gently, you want to approach it respectfully, a lot depends on your relationship with your own parents, and your in laws, it can be tricky. You know, if you have a difficult relationship, I really recommend getting a third party involved and meeting with a trusted adviser, some sort of counselor or a pastor or a therapist to talk about what some of the difficulties might be and get ahead of them before they become things that drive you apart.

Alex Alexander 32:54
I hope some people go and find that guide, because I think they will find it very helpful. Now, you have touched on this a number of times, and I think, although it’s not exactly the point of this episode, because we’re talking about grandparents, but it’s… I mean, it’s the central tie to it all. And that is the parent-to-adult child relationship, the grandparent-to-adult child relationship, and how important that is. And navigating, I think that’s another piece of this right is like navigating that, in my mind, I firmly believe that the parent child, like your parent is still your parent, I’m not trying to say that, but it does move more into a little bit of this like, friendship realm. You now have to build the relationship, similar to how you would build a friendship, you can’t rely on that, like, well-I’m-your-parent dynamic anymore. There has to be some mutual respect. And it’s a little more nuanced than that. But can you talk a little bit about that relationship?

DeeDee Moore 34:02
Oh, that’s so true. You really hit on it when you said it becomes more like a friend to friend relationship in some ways. You cannot expect your adult child to look at you as a person of authority at this point in their life. And you can’t ask things of them that you would not ask a friend. You can’t expect things that you would not expect from a good friend. It’s just not how the world works if you want to continue to have a healthy relationship with them. I think it’s something that gets ignored. I think that as people become grandparents, they focus so hard on that grandchild, that they ignore the changes that are happening in their relationship with their adult child. And, of course this is true of all adult children, not just the ones who become parents, but it’s even more crucial when there is that third generation involved, because, well, for one thing, you want to continue your relationship with that generation. And, you know, you hear about it all the time where grandparents have lost contact with the grandchild because the relationship with their adult child has disintegrated. So it’s really, really important to navigate how that relationship is changing. And to understand that it’s changing, right? A lot of… lot of grandparents, I don’t think really grasp how much that relationship does change, and why it’s important for them to, you know, learn to navigate that.

Alex Alexander 35:44
I mean, it’s no secret on this platform that my family relationships are strained. So I’ve obviously done a lot of thinking about this relationship, the adult trial to your parent relationship. And people can take this or leave it, but kind of my reflections have led to this place where there’s always some sense of that original parent-child relationship there because a parent, grandparent, I don’t think can really… well, you shouldn’t be dumping on your kids, you shouldn’t be like asking them for things that you should maybe be asking a friend, for example. An example of that would be that at one point, my dad asked me how to retire, as if I would… as if I would know. Like, that’s funny.

DeeDee Moore 36:38
Well, you’re smart, that’s great.

Alex Alexander 36:40
Like something… stressful on me that maybe you shouldn’t be putting down there. But you should be going to your peers who are also in the season of life who are going through this thing, and asking for advice. So some of that like asking advice down to your child, I think there’s some barriers there, that should be respected. Otherwise, I do think that it really does develop into this friendship where you can’t rely as much on the expectation of, well, I’m your parent Like you have to build ways that you spend time together, that you both enjoy. You have to find your shared interests, you have to navigate coming up with new traditions and new ways you spend time together. And those are going to change over time, they’re not going to be the same. And you as the parent don’t get to dictate what they are all the time. It’s like a conversation. That’s kind of where I’ve ended up on my very in depth thoughts at this point about this relationship.

DeeDee Moore 37:50
Well, I think you’re exactly right. And you know, it’s funny, because I’ve been revamping our holiday guide for grandparents. And one of the things that we talk about in it is family traditions. Those might not continue exactly the way you’ve always done them. And that’s really hard for some people, but it’s something you’ve got to be respectful of. And, you know, if you’ve always taken all the kids to get the picture with Santa, well, that’s not your job anymore. Maybe the parents want to do that. Maybe they want you to do it. But you’ve got to be respectful of what they want. And you know, maybe they don’t want Santapictures at all as much as that would ruin your display on the wall of every year with the Santa. You know, those are the things that you have to talk about and navigate.

Alex Alexander 38:39
Yeah, and I think just because the tradition ends doesn’t mean there can’t be a new one developed that currently, maybe you don’t hold the same nostalgia for, but in 5 years, 10 years, that’s going to have been just meaningful.

Dee Dee Moore 38:55
Absolutely. You know, it only takes one year for it to be meaningful, really. I mean, an experience does not have to be repeated year after year for it to be meaningful. So things change, and it’s important to be flexible. And I wanted to say something about what you were saying a little bit ago about how, you know, your dad came to you and ask you for retirement advice. And I think that speaks to what we started with, with grandparents need to have more, right? You need to keep up the friendships, stay active in your community, have other people in your life that are important to you beyond your family.

Alex Alexander 39:32
And let’s go here because this is so important, I think. I think, you know, there’s all sorts of stats out there. I mean, about all sorts of things, but it does show that when you get into that retirement age like 60s 70s 80s, most people end up… like the trajectory shows that you actually start gaining friends again. You have more close friends. And that would make sense, because you do have more time to fill. But one, not everyone does that. Not everyone is going out there and seeking those friendships. And I think that something that’s not talked a lot about in the family conversations happening out there about boundaries and estrangement and tension and navigating this transition to adult child parent is, when all of the grandparents’ social wellness hinges on that grandchild, adult child relationship. That’s a lot of pressure on that one relationship.

DeeDee Moore 40:47
It is, and it’s a lot of pressure on the grandparent also, because there is no other outlet for any of their emotional needs. And so it’s, you know, it’s so key to stay active, and to keep up those friendships and to seek out new ones and to, you know, get involved with your community. And we know there are tons of opportunities to do that. I can’t stress enough that grandparents need to… need to keep doing that.

Alex Alexander 41:20
And I think that the other thing that needs to be said, it’s like when you’re doing that, allowing those relationships to develop into deeper connections. Because something I also hear from people is that grandparent generation, sure they’re out there doing a bunch of things, but they kind of keep things surface level sometimes, because they want to be able to drop… you know, the family grandparent piece is so important that if… if an opportunity comes up, they want to be able to just like drop everything else with no repercussions. So sure they’re out there doing stuff. But it’s maybe not very fulfilling. Like they come back and report, you know, “Oh, yeah, I did that. But like, I don’t really know those people. I just go to that place.” I just think they’re kind of going through the motions. In which case, I don’t think you’re really getting obviously the benefits there. Your time is filled. Sure. But you’re kind of always waiting for this better thing.

DeeDee Moore 42:29
That’s such a great point. And it is something that I think that if you are aware of that, that it would be easier to remedy, right? You know, so much of this is just, “Oh, I never thought of it that way. I never thought of it that way. But you’re right, I do just go there every week. And hey, maybe next time, I’ll see if somebody you know, wants to have coffee after we volunteer. Or instead of just, you know, meeting the Library Group, meeting the group at the library, we can start meeting in each other’s homes.” Or…

Alex Alexander 43:03
Maybe they also are interested in, I don’t know what why pickleball keeps coming to my mind, but like pickleball, you know, because it’s so big… interested in this activity I’ve been wanting to try. So now you’re doing multiple things together. Something my friends talk about as well, quite a bit. And I don’t know, as much as your generation talks about is, we love, at least my friends, we love mixing family and friends. Like that is a form of deepening your connections. So if you’re a grandparent out there who has these other friends and you get invited to a birthday party for your friend’s grandson, or something your family will be in attendance, I mean, it could just be like a simple backyard barbecue or an open house or something, go. That adds so much richness to get to meet your friends’ family, and vice versa. Like invite your friends as well. I love meeting my friend’s parents and their friends.

DeeDee Moore 44:08
Absolutely. I mean, that’s the way you build community, right? You don’t have these separate little pots of people, you intermingle them and create a web where everybody is interconnected. And that’s what catches you, right?

Alex Alexander 44:21
Yes, exactly. And again, people may not be thinking about that. They may be like so focused somewhere else, that they’ve just never considered that they could actively build this bigger, broader net, or that they have kind of let a lot of friendships go and they don’t have people who are going through similar life experiences to talk about this stuff with or that they haven’t really invested at all in this area of their life. Because you’ve been so focused on that. Maybe that grandparent experience.So I do think a huge piece of this is just awareness.

DeeDee Moore 45:05
Well, it’s so true of so many things, right? I mean, you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s even true for grandparents, you may think that you’ve accrued a lot of wisdom over the years, but you’ve never been a grandparent before you are one. And you really don’t know what you don’t know. So it’s worth listening and learning and diving into all the issues that surround this new part of life.

Alex Alexander 45:31
There’s one more topic that is related to all this that I kind of wanted to touch on, and that is navigating being a grandparent, when maybe your children and by proxy your grandchildren, like your children have built this bigger, broader support network in their life. Maybe they live near you, maybe they don’t, and they have tapped into the neighbors down the street that stopped by. Maybe they have friends like me, who are actively being a part of their kids’ lives and are stopping by to babysit every once in a while. Can you give some words on that? Because I have heard from people that then there can be this layer of grandparent jealousy or frustration that somebody else… like it’s hard enough to navigate between maybe two sets of grandparents on each side, or three or four… adding in all this other extra, the probably much needed, and much appreciated support and connection, sometimes it can be kind of sticky.

DeeDee Moore 46:43
Yeah, yeah. You know, I hear this from grandparents too. My advice to them is always just focus on your relationship with that child, and with the parents, and let everybody else focus on theirs. It is not a competition, there can not be enough people in the world loving that child or those children. The more people that are loving them and supporting that family, the better your relationship with them will be. And if you just focus on what you can do, and how you can be involved and let everybody else do what they need to do, you’re going to be a whole lot happier. And you’re gonna have a much better relationship, because you’re not going to spend all that time worrying that somebody’s outdoing you or gets more time or, or any of those things. And it is complicated these days. I mean, the idea that, you know, every child is issued for grandparents is not how it works anymore. So they may have, you know, six grandfathers and three grandmothers.

Alex Alexander 47:41
Some honorary grandmas, and grandpas and aunties.

DeeDee Moore 47:44
Exactly a bevy of aunts, and uncles, and all of those people want the same thing to be a part of that child’s life. So they can all be that, without it diminishing anything from you.

Alex Alexander 47:57
As you were saying that I just realized, like this is yet again, another parallel that your work and my work has. There are all these ideas of these relationships that are kind of like all encompassing, all or nothing, that in order for them to be valid, they have to be all the things. And I think grandarents, for sure, feel that way. Like in order to be a good grandparent, you have to be all the things. And none of us can be all the things for anybody. So yeah, instead of trying to compare or take up all the space, you know, just showing up for the things you’re really great at as a grandparent, the ways that you can be there, and then like just being happy when other people can fill in other spaces. It doesn’t have to be all you. And I think that’s similar to a friendship message.

DeeDee Moore 48:53
Yeah, it can be really hard for grandparents, especially if, you know, one set of grandparents lives near the child. And you’re the grandparent who lives 2000 miles away, and just doesn’t get to have the same sort of relationship. But I have heard over and over again, from people who, you know, either had that situation when they were growing up, and it does not diminish your relationship at all, if you’re the grandparent that they only see a couple of times a year. And with technology, I mean, I don’t live near my grandchildren, but I see them almost every day, almost every day. When they’re having lunch, we FaceTime and I read to them. So I am very much a part of their life, despite the fact I don’t live anywhere near them. And I don’t get to see them in person that often.

Alex Alexander 49:41
I mean, I think that there’s some magic sometimes to those shorter, very immersive experience experiences that like maybe you wouldn’t necessarily get if you were close. It’s different. Yeah, but it’s all different. Neither is worse, or better. They just… it’s like leaning into what your experience is and finding all the magic in that. Yeah.

DeeDee Moore 50:07
Yeah, I just actually talked to a grandparent recently, I just met this woman. And she was saying that they had moved away from their adult children and their grandchildren. And, you know, that was hard to do, because they’d lived nearby for most of the first years of their grandchildren’s lives. But now, when they get together, you know, when they have a week in the summer that they rent a house together, and they’re all together, she said, t”That week is so much better than all the time that we were next door, because we are just together and focused on one another, and it’s magical.” So yeah, I mean, whatever your situation is, you can make the best of it.

Alex Alexander 50:46
I think that this has been such a fruitful conversation. I think that a lot of people are gonna appreciate that this exists out there and glad people are gonna share this, with their friends, with their family. To close out this episode, I think something that might be really interesting to touch on would be, you touched on it, but like, navigating that idea of grandparents being friends with other grandparents and the pressure to maybe have that grandparent experience. Do you have any advice for anybody who’s now listening to this? Maybe they were already here, but maybe they’re listening to it now. And realizing that a big piece of why they feel the way they feel is because they’re getting pressure from their friends.

DeeDee Moore 51:31
It’s hard. I mean, peer pressure is tough at any age. It does not magically get easier as you get older. But it does change. And I think once you recognize that there is kind of that peer pressure going on, and that the messages that are out there on social media and, and on the T shirts are, are not really great messages for happy families, I think that’s the first step in recognizing that. Maybe you want to do things differently. So take a deep look at what messages you’re getting and where you’re getting them from. And think about how you really want to be a grandparent, what it means to you, and talk to your grandchild’s parents about how you can make that happen.

Alex Alexander 52:16
Yeah, I keep coming back, like the underlying… the grandparent experience, like, why do you want it? What part of it do you want? Not so you can’t have all of it. But like, I think there’s some like, why is a really powerful question here.

DeeDee Moore 52:32
Absolutely. I know. I hear a lot of grandparents that they want to be the fun Grandma, you know? I’m like, well, what does that mean? Like, what is the fun grandma to you? You really need to dive into that and and figure out exactly what it is that that means to you. Because it may not actually mean bringing presents every time you come. That may not be what you want out of being a grandparent. And yet that’s what you default to because that makes your grandchild so happy in the moment. Right?

Alex Alexander 53:01
Yeah. Dee Dee, this has been such a great conversation. And I am really grateful you came on here and that we could touch on this subject. Can you tell everyone where to find you on the internet? We’ll link it in the show notes and all that kind of stuff. But where where can people find you?

DeeDee Moore 53:19
I am at More Than Grand. So it’s morethangrand.com on the internet and @morethangrand on almost every social media. So just look for more than grand and you will find all of the stuff we have to offer.

Alex Alexander 53:33
Go give her a follow. I really, really love seeing your content pop up on my page. Thanks again, Dee Dee.

DeeDee Moore 53:40
Thank you.

Alex Alexander [Narration] 53:41
Thank you to everyone who tuned in today. I really appreciate it. This conversation is, I think, a really important one. Here’s why. Because so many conversations out there when it comes to, I mean really any relationship, but I think definitely what I’ve seen of this grandparent relationship is about putting up boundaries and restricting time and saying no. And boundaries are important. Don’t get me wrong. But quite often in our relationships, I think the answer is to add. And that’s really, really what I hope gets out there from having these conversations is although societal messages, peer pressure, whatever might be telling you that like just wait until you get this grandparent experience, you’re putting all your eggs in that one basket and it’s not going how you want. Quite often, there can be the boundaries and the nos and the things like that. What if instead we added? What if we supplemented? What if we diversified? What if we brought in the social fabric of your life so that there was less pressure on these 1, 2, 3, this like small number of relationships? Maybe that would just be a release valve that would allow them to thrive. That is what I hope. I hope that these kinds of conversations that I don’t think are being had enough, will get out there and make us all question what we’re doing and change some actions and in the end, create richer, more fulfilling relationships. That’s my hope. I want to point you to a couple of resources that I mentioned in the podcast. If you are curious, when I talked about this, like bigger, broader cumulative support system, what I’m talking about, you can go to alexalex.link/yourpeople. And it will show you my framework that talks about all the people in your life. And it’s a great place to go and see like, how many community relationships do you think you have, close friends, family, past friendships, breaks it all down for you. The other thing I want to point you to is, if you are curious about that roots of connection framework, you can go to alexalex.link/roots. And that’ll give you the 101, you can also listen to episode 12 of the podcast. And finally, Dee Dee mentioned her new Grandparents Essentials, and I made a link just for that product and it is alexalex.link/deedee. With that, I’ll see you next week.

Podcast Intro/Outro 56:46

Thank you for listening to this episode of Friendship IRL. I am so honored to have these conversations with you. But don’t let the chat die here. Send me a voice message. I created a special website just to chat with you. You can find it at alexalex.chat. You can also find me on Instagram. My handle, @itsalexalexander. Or go ahead and leave a review wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts. Now if you want to take this conversation a step further, send this episode to a friend. Tell them you found it interesting. And use what we just talked about as a conversation starter the next time you and your friend hang out. No need for a teary Goodbye. I’ll be back with a new episode next week.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

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Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

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