Monthly Archives: December 2017

Spoiling Grandchildren

Do you ‘spoil’ your grandchildren? Some people say that this is a common phenomenon. It could be argued that children all over the world are becoming increasingly unhealthy, overweight and demanding. Could this be due to the over-attentive care of grandparents?

Too Many Cookies

We, grandparents, it is often argued, give those visiting children too many cookies (or ‘biscuits’ as they are known in the UK) and not enough exercise. This is, of course, the easy option.

Sit them down in front of the television with an extra piece of cake. Perhaps some grandparents buy the children’s affection by letting them have what they want.

Feeling guilty?

Well, I’m not. And plenty of others aren’t either.

Yes, we give the occasional treat in the form of an extra cookie. Or give them pancakes for breakfast and ice cream in the afternoon – or even ice cream for breakfast! But lots of us are also clever at getting children to eat well and establish good eating habits.

Screen Time

It could be argued that grandparents let grandchildren play with their ever-expanding forms of electronic games. This is especially an issue if such time is limited by their parents at home.

Personally, I limit those games, with children always working ‘to get to the next level.’ Most grandparents would like a little personal interaction during the brief periods we visit, and so electronic devices often get put away.

Who Spoils the Children?

My book Celebrating Grandmothers is based on interviews I took with women talking about what it is like to be a grandmother. In the course of writing it I found the shoe to be on the other foot.

Although many were impressed with the childcare given by their own children, many others were deeply concerned about what they saw as regular spoiling.

The grandchildren had too much stuff, they said. One said her granddaughter had so many Christmas presents, they were found unopened months later. Too much screen time was a common cry – and not enough running around.

Indeed, such issues were the source of considerable family tensions, although the grandmothers agreed that they were wise to be quiet. Every grandmother should be ‘issued with a zip,’ one suggested.


Finally, it is well known that we, grandparents, give a lot of help to our children in the form of free childcare. Most of us are not complaining because we find it fun or, indeed, fulfilling.

But it is nonetheless work, and, like any work, we don’t always get it right. Indeed, sometimes we do take the easy route.

If we do offer the occasional extra ‘treat,’ maybe that is the price our children must pay for our help. Or, as one grandmother put it, giving little treats to grandchildren is the grandmother’s ‘privilege.’

What Does ‘Spoiling’ Mean Anyway?

The term ‘spoiling’ is an awful one ­– as if grandchildren could be forever ruined like a spoiled pudding we were preparing. It tends to be used as a term for doing too much, but the grandmothers I interviewed tended to reject the term.

One spoke for many when she said that what she did was not spoiling but ‘showering them with love.’ And for me, that is one of the joys of being a grandparent.


This post was first published by sixtyandme ( and should not be re-blogged.


It’s simply wonderful when a reviewer really ‘gets’ it


Today, Celebrating Grandmothers got a 5 star review on from a reader who really understood what I was trying to communicate. I want to reach out to her and say, yes, thank-you, you understand.  Here is what she said:

Grandmothering is a complex, diverse, magical, and nuanced life stage


New Book: Silent Song by Jaci Wheeler


Many authors I know pull from events or people from their own lives for inspiration or storyline. I’ve never been that way personally. I’m an extremely private person by nature, so its very unusual for me to use any of myself in my books. That is actually my favorite thing about writing, I’m able to fully create worlds and people out of thin air. It allows you to become whoever you want for the moment. I usually create a main character who is nothing like me because it allows me to be and do all the things I’ve always wanted to.

I’ve had a very eventful life. Those who know me well always ask why I’ve never drawn from my real life for a novel, since my life is pretty much a lifetime movie. The idea of writing anything close to home has always been completely horrifying for me. (Super private remember?)

I have a pretty unique situation where I lost my hearing at eighteen years old. (You can read more about it in my letter to the reader in Silent Song.) Deafness is one of those subjects that most people think they understand…but actually don’t. There is so much more to deafness than not being able to hear. There are levels (decibels) of sound that is so intricate that it is much more than just you can hear or not.

A few years ago I read a book that had a deaf main character. The book was amazing, but there were so many things that weren’t accurate. It wasn’t glaringly obvious unless you were deaf, but it really bothered me. I had brought up the issue to a good author friend of mine and I’ll never forget what she said to me.

“The only way to fix this problem Jaci, is to set it straight. That means you are going to have to write the story of a deaf person from their perspective. Show people not only your world, but help them understand the deaf world. Who else will?”

I instantly shut her down. Theres no way I’m writing anything close my life. A few months went by and then I had to explain a few things about deafness to people that they just never knew. Like just because you speak English doesn’t mean deaf people can write in English without struggle. Almost every hearing person I talked to didn’t know that American Sign Language is NOT english. It has its own structure and rules like any other language. ASL is my second language, but it’s the main one I use at home with my husband. It’s hard for my brain to switch back and forth between ASL and English. Because of this I tend to change tenses when I write, which is very frowned upon in writing. I’m pretty sure I’ve driven every editor I’ve ever had to drink over this little fact.

After having to explain this to several people over a very short amount of time I finally came to terms with the fact that I was going to have to write a story with a deaf character.

I decided to go home and just see if I even had a story in me. I don’t outline, ever. I just start writing. I usually write the end first, then the beginning and fill in the middle. (Yeah I’m weird.) So I went home and just started writing to see if I even had a story in me…and I couldn’t stop. I wrote through he night, and all weekend long. By the time I took a break I had almost written half of the book. This is the only book I didn’t have to re-write or revise. It was trapped deep down and apparently ready to be freed. I cried more while writing this story than I have probably ever cried in my life. But it was also the most cathartic thing I‘ve ever done.

This story isn’t my own, but the feelings are completely mine. The pain, fears and passion is all mine even though the story belongs to Barrett alone.

Silent Song by Jaci Wheeler is available on Amazon today.

World Aids Day today

Today is World AIDS Day, which only a few people these days will recognise.  It used to be a time of calling attention to the needs of people with this terrible disease – well, it still is, but fewer people are listening.

In my book, you will read about how it used to feel to be living with HIV or AIDS.  You may say that is no longer relevant or not of particular interest, but it is incredibly moving. Reviewers talk about ‘a very important read’ and ‘read it to understand the beauty of life’ – and that gives you a feeling for the kind of read it is.