Most parents are conscientious about the impact their parenting will have on their children. Fewer probably think of how their approach to parenting can impact their own health.
Yet regardless of what kind of parenting style you fall into, most would agree that despite all the joy and satisfaction of parenting, it can still be a very stressful experience, both physically and mentally. After all, children don’t come with instruction manuals!
On the other hand, people almost universally agree on the joys of being a grandparent. And new research from the University of Melbourne suggests that grand-parenting is beneficial to physical and mental health. More social engagement and less cognitive decline, better physical functioning as well as better mental capacity are some of the measureable benefits.
“This role promotes a socially active lifestyle that may be beneficial to cognitive ageing” write the authors of the study.
Why is this not true for parents? Why is it that caring for children can be stressful for parents but can bring health benefits to grandparents?
Grandparents I talk with tell me that being a grandparent is parenting minus the stress. You can love the children, enjoy them…and then give them back to their parents – without being burdened by a sense of responsibility.
Caring for the physical and emotional needs of a little child is certainly demanding. But I found that more than this, it was the sense of feeling totally responsible for the children that brought me anxiety and stress. So it was very helpful, when my children were very little, to have a better sense of balance brought out in me by someone who had experience with the spiritual side of parenting.
She said: “Your responsibility as a parent is to respond to God’s ability”!
Over the years, that thought of conscientiously listening for the loving guidance of a divine power that cares for both children and parents healed that stressful sense of being burdened by responsibility. It brought to our family grace in moments of stress and consistently led to practical, problem-solving, answers.
“Father-Mother is the name for Deity, which indicates His tender relationship to His spiritual creation,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy.
In the stillness of an individual spiritual practice one is able to recognize the divine presence, the one responsible divine Parent responding lovingly to the needs of both children and parents. Wise and practical ideas will follow – ideas for a balanced parenting style that is loving but firm, that takes into account individual needs and blesses the whole family.
That, I’ve found, is the secret to stress-free caring. With the divine Mind at the helm – whether parent or grandparent – caring for children will be beneficial to physical and mental health.
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