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How far back, I wondered, does genetic replication go?  I’ll stick with four generations for the moment, because that was what we had with us. So each of the grandchildren has got a tiny bit of their great grandmother who was in the room, not to mention bits from their grandmother and grandfather (me) who were also there.

But that doesn’t take into account the parents of the three partners, so there are another six people, not in the room, to be taken into account. Are there bits of them in each of these five grandchildren? Well, no, because they’ve each only got four grandparents, so at that level it’s only four but.....  hold on this is getting too complicated. Let’s draw it:

                                                         2 GGParents     2 GGParents
                                                                  |                    |
Grand-child  .......... Mother    ........... Grandmother + Grandfather
                             Father     ........... Grandmother + Grandfather
                                                                  |                    |
                                                         2 GGParents     2 GGParents

Got it! So each child is a combination of 14 people in the previous three generations.
BUT brother or sisters will have the same gene pool but cousins will have one Grandmother & Grandfather different and so 4 great grandparents different. Now we have three children and therefore there are three sets of families, this means our total number has gone up to 26 people. i.e. 26 people in the previous three generations contributed to these five grandchildren. No wonder they are different!

But of course that is only part of the story because, if you’ve been into this before, you know it is a case of “nature PLUS nurture” i.e. genes PLUS environment.  But does environment change genes because if not, it is only the living relatives who will contribute to the lives of these five children as far as ‘environment’ is concerned.  So where do I come in the pecking order of inputs to their lives?  

Well obviously their parents have the greatest influence, but do I and my wife come next?  I doubt it; there are teachers who see them daily and input to them. And maybe they have friends and friends of their parents who also input. (Not to mention TV and culture).

Does this mean that I as a grandparent am a waste of time in terms of the amount of input I can have in these young lives? I don’t think so. Obviously it depends on how often we see them and how we respond to them but I reckon us grandparents could be strong contenders for influencing these little lives.

But then I started pondering on something else that really took me into the long grass of speculation: what will each of these little children be like in twelve years time? They’ll each be teenagers then? What will they be like, what will their world be like?

Is it possible that I might just be an anchor in an unstable word for them through those years (assuming I’m still here then)?  A lot of things could happen in those twelve years – good things and bad. Will I take all the opportunities given to me to build bridges to these little people so that whatever happens in their lives, however far they may be from us, and whatever they may be going through, they may know they can depend on me? Oh my goodness, this ‘life stuff’ gets serious sometimes!   If you’re a grandparent, have some fun as you speculate about your grandkids, and have fun with them.

Quote:  “A mother becomes a true grandmother the day she stops noticing the terrible things her children do because she is so enchanted with the wonderful things her grandchildren do.”
(Source: Lois Wyse)

17. Differences in the Grandchildren

Just recently we had all the family round. ‘Family’ for us comprises our three kids, their partners and now our five grandchildren who are aged, at the time of writing, between almost two and five. As I sat watching the family mêlée I couldn’t help wondering at the variety of people and little people that filled the room. Actually we had my wife’s mother with us as well so we had four generations present. That number gives a lot of food for thought.

It was particularly the grandchildren that caught my attention and provoked my thoughts. How different they all are.  According to modern knowledge a lot of that difference is because of their genes that they have inherited. Of the pairs of their parents, of course, one in each pair got their genes from my wife and I and we each got our genes from our parents (one of whom was in the room), who got their genes from their parents and so on.