As the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly draws near, Sydney mums praise their parents
Parenting is a challenging gig, but it’s certainly made easier with supportive grandparents, says Marthe Azzi.
The Sydney mum says that she and her “awesome husband” Charlie consider themselves blessed that both sets of grandparents are willing and able to regularly help with the care of their daughters, two-year-old Emilia and six-month-old Natalie. Marthe, a doctor, is currently working towards a PhD while Charlie is a busy graphic designer with the archdiocese’s Sydney Centre for Evangelisation.
Their parents, Henri and Afife Chehade and Marie and Wadih Azzi (both ‘Tata and Jedo’ to their grandchildren), are not only often involved in Emilia and Natalie’s daily life but also pass on many of the faith traditions and wisdom that underpins the loving extended family.
“They pray with the girls and teach them many of the beautiful rituals of our Maronite Catholic tradition. We are so fortunate that they are able to care for our girls when Charlie and I are both at work.
“it’s a great privilege, it gives our children the opportunity to develop their own relationship with their grandparents”
“I know that many grandparents would love to do the same but circumstances don’t allow them to. But for us it’s a great privilege, it gives our children the opportunity to develop their own relationship with their grandparents independent to us. It also brings us closer to our parents and in-laws too.”
I’m very aware I’m very blessed and not everyone has the same support in the challenging work of parenting. But I can’t ask for better circumstances, we are surrounded by a supportive circle in our family, friends, and workplaces.”
Simon and Madeleine Carrington agree that the role of a grandparent is “irreplaceable”.
The parents of Joseph, who turns two next month and four-month-old Thomas say they feel blessed that their parents play an active role in the children’s lives.
“They are also a point of support and encouragement for us in our journey as parents,” Madeleine added. “Our children delight in the love from their Nannu and Nanna (on both sides) and we know our parents’ lives have been enriched because of the love and joy our children bring to them.”
Campsie couple Chantal and Piotr Czeczotko named their children, one-year-old Antoni Tadeusz and four-month-old daughter Maria Danielle, after all four of their grandparents.
“It wasn’t out of any sense of obligation, but we both just felt so blessed by the parents we’d been given that we wanted to name our first boy or our first girl after them,” Chantal said. Piotr’s parents, Maria and Tadeusz, live in Poland and last visited Sydney for Antoni’s baptism just before the first COVID pandemic border closures.
Chantal said they have been a “phenomenal help” for the young family who keep in touch with regular phone and video calls, while Maria as a paediatric doctor is always the first ‘go to’ person the moment a health or medical worry arises.
“Even from such a great distance the children can feel the incredible love and care their ‘Babcia’ and ‘Bziadbk’ have for them,” Chantal said. Her own parents Anthony and Danielle Khoury luckily live a short drive away and are happy to act as babysitters or just spend time with the little ones doing things Chantal remembers her grandparents did.
Steven Buhagiar, team leader of the Life, Marriage and Family Office said parents are increasingly turning to grandparents for support due to the increased pressures of the pace of life we live in places such as Sydney.
“This provides wonderful opportunities for parents to have welcome input into the lives of their grandchildren, despite also knowing that they have to allow the parents to be parents,” he said. “One of the greatest gifts a grandparent can give is to pray for our children and grandchildren. As a grandparent myself it is most reassuring to remember that whatever happens we can always make that contribution.”
This year Pope Francis instituted a Church-wide celebration of a World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly. It is one of the initiatives of the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family, (19 March 2021-26 June 2022), which was launched by Pope Francis on the feast of St Joseph this year, to be held close to the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.
Bishop Richard Umbers will celebrate Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral on 24 July from 10am in honour of the special day. Mass will be followed by time to venerate the relics of Sts Joachim and Anne which are usually kept at the Shrine of St Anne in Bondi. The relic of St Anne is an authenticated first-class relic, originating from St Anne’s major relics which are located in Apt in France.