Grandma lives by the sea. She is full of energy, always smiling and loves to be with children, especially her grandchildren. She has has two daughters, four granddaughters and two grandsons. She also taught middle school for many years. As a result her advice stems from a blend of raising children and teaching them. One of her key insights was that she changed and adapted over the years. As a very young teacher, she was much more rigid and subscribed to a "this is the way it is done" philosophy; during her career she moved more toward "whatever works for each individual child." Below are her pearls of wisdom:
The core of everything, the very most important thing, is that your children feel loved. They need to feel that you enjoy being with them. When they are loved, and know it, they feel valued and can grow from that place of acceptance. Some of the ways to show this love are to make sure that home is a safe place - a place where they can be silly, mad, emotional. Where they can be free to be themselves and know they will be loved as a whole person.
It is important to expose children to as many experiences as possible. To various cultures, music, etc. To expand their view of the world and give them the freedom to explore different things. To inspire creativity and acceptance of others.
Within reason, it's important to let kids make decisions for themselves and live with the consequences, both positive and negative, and hopefully be able to share their feelings at home.
Grandma encourages parents to take a step back. To really think about what's most important - to think using the tool of "in 10 years from now, will this matter." For example will doing the dishes or getting out on the swing set for a few minutes matter in the end. She realizes, yes the dishes need to get done, but they will eventually... spending time with your kids, doing things together, reading, and playing is critical.
The hardest thing in parenting for Grandma was when her children were hurt - physically hurt, left out or broken hearted. She felt like she just wanted to change places with them, so she could take away the hurt. Since that's not always possible, she suggests being as supportive as you can. Always letting your kids know you love them and you are there for them. Having an open and honest relationship goes a long way in building the trust you will need to rely on when children are hurt.
Grandma had so many great memories - at the top would be the family vacations with their entourage of hilarious moments, odd places and just being together. She really would encourage you to enjoy every moment.