Being a grandparent is fabulous. You can't undo whatever mistakes you made raising your kids, but you can try to make it better with the next generation. I learned (the hard way) never to say anything negative about anyone in the family in front of kids.
My teenage son reproached me--many times--for telling him when he was a child that I was angry with his dad. Even that was too much. Because his dad is part of him, no matter what.
I love my "Girl Talks" with my four-year old granddaughter. Usually we have them at night when we're in my big bed and her baby brother is already sound asleep. She tells me her dreams and stories and jokes.
Recently I was driving them somewhere and her brother was napping. She and I were talking about the people we loved.
She will tell me she loves my house and wants to stay, but she is very shy about telling me she loves me, so I asked her, "Do you love Gaga?" She was very serious. She thought and said, "Yes, I love you."
I said, "I love you too, sweetheart, very much."
She then asked with some anxiety, "Do you love my baby brother too?" I told her, "Of course I love him. But I've loved you longer." She broke into a huge grin.
Later I want to tell her that she is special and she shouldn't give her heart or body to just anyone who comes along. She must be careful and patient and wait for people who really love her and will care for her. She's a long way from dating and socializing, but I want her to grow up with the realization of how precious she is.
My parents never told me anything like this. As a kid, I'd go to visit my Italian neighbors who called their children their "treasures". Treasures. What a culture shock. My parents were an very odd couple, Depression folks and Presbyterians, so any emotion was strictly taboo. Except anger and despair. We never would have thought of ourselves as their treasures. More like pains in the neck.
I did my best to give my only son joy and love and everything I could (and I'm still giving). He's nearing 30 now and with two kids, is realizing what his single mom went through. Goes around; comes around. As a friend told me, "Karma works."