When Your Child Becomes a Parent

Columnist Sally Koslow finds that having a grandchild also means she has a whole new relationship with her son.

By Sally Koslow

Since the moment he presented himself in the breech position with a mop of red hair, my son Jed hasn’t stop surprising me. I could never have imagined a little boy who at age three would start living for Star Wars, nor did I foresee an adult who for his 36th birthday would request Darth Vader and His Son, a book where Pops is like any other, if you don’t count being the Dark Lord of the Sith in a galaxy far, far away. Then again, I couldn’t have imagined my child as a father. Can anyone?

One of grandparenthood’s sweetest perks is the chance to see your baby become a parent. My own mother, not given to gushing, remarked on how touched she was to watch me nurse, and I felt a similar pang when I first laid eyes on Jed cradling his newborn. Emil, my grandson, has now reached the ripe old age of seven months old, and each time I see him with his father, I’m impressed all over again by how Jed has so readily taken to this daddy business. Is it intuitive, or has my kid been inhaling parenting books?

That Jed has joined the I-love-my-son-so-much-I-might-burst club has tiled our relationship toward equality. Not that we’re peers. The advantage seems to be in his court, freeing my first-born to speak up when he feels I’ve erred as a grandmother. I’ve gotten called on the carpet twice.

My first demerit was for putting Emil in a playground’sbaby-swing--carefully, with the hands-on support of my cousin, I must add. When I sent Jed a video of the escapade (guess who loves her smartphone?) he chastised me, saying Emil was too young for these experienc. Also, he wanted to be the first one to swing him, which I suspect was the real point. Like he’s going to remember, I thought as I took my licks, just as I did when I riled Jed by emailing my other son and daughter-in-law a picture of Emil wearing an adorable new sweater that had been a gift from them. “We like to send the picture when someone gives Emil a present,” I was told in a scold.

I could have protested about being unfairly punished—I’d traveled an hour to babysit, after all. But I decided to laugh to myself. Jed’s the dad. He’s earned the right to make his rules, while mutual membership in the parenthood club hasn’t earned me the right to similar candor. It’s not my place to say why don’t you give the baby an occasional bottle of formula or let Emil get used to napping in his crib, not on your bed? Whether I agree with them or not, I’ve got to respect the decisions Jed and his wife are making on Emil’s behalf. I am getting such a kick out of grannyhood that I can live with this.

Having Jed become a father does makes me hope he has grown to understand how when I made decisions that affected him, I always had his best interests at heart. Not allowing him to watch TV on school nights or get his ear pierced in eighth grade and insisting that he to try to eat a fish that hadn’t been turned into a stick—I wasn’t being mean or arbitrary when I made these demands. I was just being a mom.  

I also hope that now that Jed has a child of his own who we both love deeply, it understands that it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped having big dreams for my son and his future. Some aspects of a relationship never change.

Sally Koslow is the author of four novels and the non-fiction book, Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest. She became a grandmother in June, 2012.


I totally understand as a new grandparent of a 1 year old that I have to follow-up lead of the parents. It is their turn to make the decisions and decide what is best for the new bundle of joy. Now, I fully ready to throw in my opinion when asked but that is the key, you have to be asked first? The only exception is when true harm might be on the horizon. I have to admit that I am very proud when I see my son take his stance as Father and Daddy and a joy is in my heart that I had a part in it.

MsLynne on 2013-02-07 23:38:20

My grandchildren are my daughter's kids but, trust me, I feel the same way. From the first, it has meant so much to see her "being a mom," even now that she's up to taking her kids to extracurriculars, etc! My heart could burst with love of both her and them!

As far as "first" are concerned, such as that "first time in a baby swing," I think it's more about the parents than the child. After all, as the author says, the baby won't remember it. But the parents, I think, want to have that first experience with their child, to see them in, say, that swing for the first time and hear those squeals of delight (if any), etc. Same, I believe, with wanting to send out THEIR pictures of THEIR child. Baby doesn't know the difference but the parents DO.

Loved this article though! And as all the comments here show, most of us GPs can really relate to it!

rosered135 on 2013-02-07 04:30:07

I understand; my son is a father of all girls and it is so precious to have the pix of him holding them as babies. And when the older sees him when he comes in and starts calling daddy, daddy! is so valuable. I'm so proud of the dad he's turned out to be. But, yes, I try to remember I'm just the grandparent now; I remember how I was as a parent.

lizasnan on 2013-02-05 14:07:14

I have 2 sons that now are Fathers each have 2 Sons of there own and my greatest pictures are of them holding and cradling there children. The look on my Grandsons Faces when there Daddy come through the door after work is priceless. Or when they fall asleep in there Daddy's arms. Even when they bend down to explan why it was not a nice thing they did. It is still a wonder to me that my sons turned out to be Great Dad's. And yes it is hard to step back and let them raise there childten there way. After all I am the Grand parent not the parent

Flosh on 2013-02-05 12:58:16

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