As any grandparent knows, something magical happens the first time you hold your grandchild. All wrapped up in that little bundle of love are your genes from the past and hopes for the future.
When we returned home from meeting our first grandson, I immediately went to the library and bookstores looking for a book to help us be good long-distance grandparents. In 1995 there wasn’t much available. Off-handedly I mentioned this gap to my daughter-in-law Julie: “Gosh, I could write a better book than what is out there.” To which she immediately replied, “Hey, Mom, how would you like a co-author?” Bolstered by each other’s confidence, and because we were both English majors, former teachers, and passionate about keeping families close, we felt we could do this.
We worked hard on our proposal, and after submitting it to 22 publishers were thrilled to have three who wanted the book. In writing it, we quickly learned that we had complementary strengths. Rick and I had a vast network of grandparent friends. When the 150 questionnaires I sent to them snowballed into 350 responses, as folks copied and shared it with neighbors, we knew we’d struck a chord. I outlined and fed the best responses from these enthusiastic families to Julie -- an editor for Yale and Harvard -- who put them into an engaging narrative. These grandparenting tips, from those who shared what had worked for them, became the cornerstone of our book Grandloving.
While Julie worked on the narrative, I compiled and wrote over 200 activities that grandparents could do with -- or mail to -- grandchildren using materials most have right at home. A year after we started, the first edition of Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren was hot off the press. Two years after that we purchased back the rights to our book and started a publishing company, Heartstrings Press. Now, ten years later, we’ve just come out with our new 4th edition -- winner of four national parenting awards!
As a team, and individually, we’ve benefited and grown from this journey. We’ve traveled and presented TV and radio shows nationwide, co-marketed with a fifty- year-old toy company, enlisted the entire family to help stuff and seal promotional materials. We’ve felt the profound satisfaction that comes from knowing we’ve helped hundreds of families stay connected. The respect and appreciation we’ve come to have for each other’s values, talents and capabilities has added to our love and admiration for each other as family.
For more information on Grandloving: Making Memories with Your Grandchildren, 4th edition, call 1-800-262-1546 or visit www.grandloving.com.
By Sue Johnson