The bliss of “grand fatherhood”! 


It wasn’t that long ago when I ran into “John,” a senior VP at a high-tech firm in Dallas:

JOHNHey Terry, good to see you. What have you been up to lately?

ME: Good to see you too John. I just got back from Virginia visiting with my son, his wife and my new grandbaby.

JOHN: Nice. How was it?

ME: Honestly, among the highlights were my changing his diapers every few hours. His parents seemed happy that I relieved them of that task. Loved it!

JOHN: Hey, I can relate. Been there, done thatNot many people will see that as a privilege and special moment.

We both are avid readers and can just as easily talk endlessly about our beautiful brides, matters of race, sports or politics. But there’s one topic that immediately brings a Cheshire cat smile to our faces far above all topics… our grandkids

The “we” here is Bernard Strong, real estate executive and storyteller extraordinaire. The “me” is me. The topic that makes us gush to no end is the indescribable joy of being granddads. 

Now if Bernard and I were to sit down for an interview about our experiences asgranddads, here are our answers to questions that may get posed to us:

Is there something unique and special about being a granddad that’s missing forthose who aren’t so fortunate?

Terry: I had no idea about the enormous joy grandkids would bring into my life. There are no words that can describe the experience of being around them. None.What say you, Bernard?

Bernard: Absolutely! Grandchildren open up an entirely new portal in experiencing life. The best way to describe this is experiencing another dimension of love, affinity, and connection. Their existence dramatically confirms the circle of life. In them, you see the vibrancy of life and provide a greater appreciation of every moment spent with them.

How does the “mainstream media” miss the mark when it comes to coverage about the realities of African American granddads?

Bernard: Main street media is a no-show when it comes to presenting a positive image of Black families in general. In commercial advertising, the positive Black male image is often diluted with negative stereotypes of Black families.

Terry: Actually, I have not seen much in the media about the critical role the Black grandfathers play in the family. I lost my dad at age 35, but my “grandaddy” was always there for us.

Talk about any special relationship you have with your grandson and granddaughter.

Bernard: Early in life, I arranged a special cabinet full of games and puzzles my granddaughters could access easily. Whenever they came to visit, they always gravitated to ” that special place” pulling out their favorite games. Then they would come, grab my hand, and insist that I come and play. This game playing has become an integral part of our family culture. When we get together (which is at least once a month) we play all types of games and have a ball. It is at these times that we connect and share a special kind of love.

Terry: I have six grandkids ranging from age 14 to six months and they each bring something different into my life. For example, when four-year-old Naomi crawled up on my lap recently to put her mom’s makeup on my face I was like in heaven. 

Describe your emotions when you see your grandkids after being away from them for an extended period of time.

Bernard: Ha, I just gobble them up and allow them to own me.

Terry: Well, when we pick them up at the airport or drive into the driveway at their homes, there’s a typical footrace between my wife and I to get to them first. I once nearly strained my back when I tried to pick up two of them at once.

Based on what you know or suspect, what do you think the parents of your grandkids would like to see more of, less of, or altogether new in your relationships with them and their children?

Terry: (Laugh) Because they live in Virginia and California and I live in Georgia, they probably wish I wouldn’t call and Facetime them so much which I do as often as possible.

Bernard: You know, I’d be completely surprised if I learned that that they’d like to see less of me in their lives. And probably a little hurt.

Is it safe to say that the fears of African American granddads are in some way different from the fears of other races?

Terry: Frankly, as the granddad of six Black grandkidsstruggle with not being able to shield them from the inevitability of discrimination and racism they will experience. Although I can’t speak for the parents of other races, I suspect this is a major concern on the part of most African American parents. 

Bernard: Terry’s right in that parents of other races may have similar concerns, especially considering the blatant acts of hate and violence that’s sweeping our nation nowadays. But the fact is that survey after survey confirms that compared to other groups, African Americans remain at the top when it comes to victims of hate crimes. So as a Black grandparent, that’s troubling.

How would you both react if all of your grandkids surprised you by walking into this interview?

BernardMine would instantly come to me and give me a big hug and I will be the happiest man in the world.

TerryMe too and without doubt, I’d be reduced to tears.

Terry Howard is an award-winning trainer, writer, and storyteller. He is a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel,, co-founder of the “26 Tiny Paint Brushes” writers guild, recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, and third place winner of the 2022 Georgia Press Award.


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