Monday, November 26, 2012

The Last Empty Nest Syndrome: Thoughts on "How to be the PERFECT Grandma"

Son, daughter-in-law, husband and grandchildren...I'm trying
to remember the rules.

How to Be the Perfect Grandma

(click this link to view on Amazon)

Bryna Nelson Paston wrote How to Be the Perfect Grandma in 2002. Her grandchildren were still small so she wrote the words while the experience was fresh in her mind. The sentence at the end of the first chapter said, "...there are rules and you, as a grandparent, must follow them or go directly to jail." The rest of the book sets out to put the reader straight when it comes to things like being a mother-in-law to the mother of the grandchild and what to do if you drop the baby on the floor (she suggested lying!). I am an experienced grandmother and I can tell you right now, Paston knows what she is talking about. She made me laugh as I nodded my head yes over and over. I wish I had written this book!

Then in 2010 she put out a second edition. Her grandchildren were growing up, the oldest were in college another in middle school. The life she described in the first edition was changing and she was facing the last empty nest syndrome.

The Last Empty Nest Syndrome 
Paston was the kind of grandmother that threw herself into the role with headlong passion. She provided a closet solely for the use of one grandson to use as a pretend office. Picnics in bed and trips to museums filled grandchildren visits. She had a box of dress-up clothes and toys gleaned at yard sales. Her job description was "Grandmother" and she loved it. I can imagine that she threw herself into the raising of her children much as she immersed herself in the lives of her grandchildren.

Then time passed...eight years later the youngest was 12 and she did not need the closet for a pretend office anymore. The older grandchildren did not return her calls and she was feeling a loss that I think made her heart ache. She was experiencing the "last empty nest syndrome". Even if she did get to be involved in her great-grandchildren's lives, she probably would not be needed the way she had always been before.

The poignant thing here is that the children and grandchildren thought they needed her more than anything. But the truth was the Paston was the one that needed them. It made me sad because I see myself in so many ways in Byrna Nelson Paston. I even know that the likelihood of my seeing my baby granddaughter of 5 month grow up and have children of her own is very slim. I too can feel the shift in my role with my children and grandchildren.

I will share this book with my daughter and her brother's wives. I think it will be valuable even now as they are raising their children. Every expecting grandmother needs to read these words and truly take them to heart. If they don't know the rules, they are bound to make unneeded mistakes and why should we let that happen?

Have a wonderful day.


A special thanks goes out to Jessica Marr at Pine Media for sending me this book. Jessica owns a website called MomVantage.

Linked to: Grandma’


  1. Oh that tugged at my heart because I know it is coming. As Amara approaches 9 in a few months I know that I won't always be as important as I am now. I feel wonderfully lucky to have such a great relationship with her and to live so close that I can be part of her everyday life. I know it means that even as she grows older our bond will be special but it might not be the same. I need to get that book.

  2. Oh, my heart. This saddened me even though it's sooooo far in the future that I'll be experiencing the second empty nest. Maybe one advantage of being a long-distance grandma is that the nest doesn't feel full at all, so the "emptying" won't be so traumatic. Maybe. I'll have to get that book. Sounds like a good one!

    Thank you for sharing. I love that photo of you and the family. Sweet.

  3. Ahhh am still dealing with not having my kids around. Wahhhh!

  4. Shelley, Lisa, Grandma KC,

    Thank you for your comments.

    I was so touched by the second edition addition to the book. You really should read this. This book is one that I will be sharing with people I know and love.


  5. Thank you for stopping and leaving a comment by Debra. I appreciate it.


  6. This makes me sad. I also have my house equipped to entertain my grandchildren. But I admit that the older ones are not as excited to come to grammy's as the little ones. I never thought of it as a second empty nest. The first one was so hard for me. I hope this one will be easier.

  7. Gail,

    It seems to me that as we live longer and longer we are going to experience a repeat of experiences we had when we were young. However, we get smarter too so we knew that we need to build interests outside of the child rearing that make us interesting and independent. I suppose that is one of the messages I wanted to put forth in this blog post.



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