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A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: A grandma knows

Shirley Showalter
Broadleaf Books
Shirley Showalter

Anyone who is one, knows: parenting is hard work. Grandparenting, well…that’s supposed to be the fun part. But younger generations today face new challenges that their elders did not. How do we, as grandparents, cultivate strong, meaningful relationships with the children we adore? How can we help our children, and our children’s children, navigate an ever more complicated world?

Cover art for "The Mindful Grandparent"
Broadleaf Books
Cover art for "The Mindful Grandparent"

Shirley Showalter and co-author Marilyn McEntyre have written a guide called The Mindful Grandparent: The Art of Loving Our Children’s Children (Broadleaf Books, 2022). The book includes fun stories about their own experiences as well as tips and suggestions for shared activities. They also offer advice on how to handle the more difficult challenges in our lives.

“When we discovered in talking to each other, knowing that we wanted to write together, both of us as grandparents—I have three, Marilyn has nine grandchildren—we were more excited about that than anything else in our lives right now,” Showalter says. “What we discovered by doing our research for a book proposal is that there is really a dearth of books on grandparenting.”

So, the two authors set to work. Their book has five sections, each filled with personal grandparenting stories, followed by a list of tips and suggestions for the reader to incorporate in their grandparenting.

“When it comes to grandparenting, we see the same new wonder, the joy of this fresh new life and all that is has in front of it,” Showalter says. “Also, we have something precious called time, discretionary time, and that’s a combination that I think merits a lot of investigation, and we hope our book will help do that.”

A conversation with Shirley Showalter

Showalter says she is especially excited to have the book launch in Kalamazoo because she now lives on the East Coast while co-author McEntyre lives on the West Coast.

“Kalamazoo is in the middle of the country, the perfect place for a launch,” she says. “Marilyn is friends with the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, and they generously invited us to use their space. We hope to have a great informal conversation. To be able to come together in person after two years of working on this book project will be a delight.”

Showalter, now a resident of Pennsylvania, lived in Kalamazoo for six years and worked as foundation executive at the Fetzer Institute. She is also the author of the memoir, Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World, and was a professor, and then president, of Goshen College in Indiana.

Showalter and co-author Marilyn McEntyre will read and discuss their book at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 29, at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Kalamazoo. Books will be available from Michigan News Agency.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

Zinta Aistars is our resident book expert. She started interviewing authors and artists for our Arts & More program in 2011.