Prime Minister Winston Churchill is frequently quoted for a speech that he gave on October 29, 1941 to the boys at Harrow School in the United Kingdom (Great Britain). The myth is that Churchill said, “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give in. Never give in. Never give in. Never give in.” Then he sat down. In reality, he gave a complete speech that, in part, said, “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” Myth or reality, Churchill got it right about never giving up, particularly when it comes to raising our children and our grandchildren.
A friend recently volunteered to ‘bird dog’ my grandson through his senior year, to make sure he was organized, got all his assignments in on time, and, basically, did what he needed to do to graduate. She told him she would work with him from September through December and, if at that time, she didn’t see him exercising some self initiation and motivation, and following through as he agreed, she was going to give up on investing time in him. She was doing this to help me because I refuse to enable him. I’ve offered him my support and help, but I’m of the belief that, at some point, motivation and determination have to come from within.
After three months of calling, emailing and visiting his teachers regularly, calling my grandson every night, texting him and stopping by to check his work, she became frustrated and disappointed in him. He wore her down with his deception, game playing, lack of response and, in general, having a nonchalant attitude toward her assistance. Finally, she wrote him a letter ‘quitting him’ in December.
In all honesty there are times I want to walk, give up and just nip this thing call parenting in the bud. But, because I know that I’m not perfect, because my parents didn’t give up on me, because I was raised to believe that you ‘take care of your own’ and because I understand that change doesn’t always occur within the timeframe that we set for someone, I will never, never give up on my grandchildren.
While I appreciate her efforts and understand her frustration, as parents and custodial grandparents, we don’t have the option of giving up on our children or grandchildren. If I were simply a grandparent, I might be able to walk away from my grandson because he would have someplace else to go. He doesn’t and, for all practical purposes, I’m his parent. And, as difficult, challenging and frustrating as our roles of custodial grandparents become, we can never, never give up! When I want to give up, I realize that I can’t, so I cajole, threaten, bribe, extort, pray and do whatever it takes to move him forward. His birth parents may have given up on him, society has let him down, family members have forsaken him, but he will always have a grandmother who—until I take my last breathe—refuses to give up on him.