Mary and Jack Bock are from Pingrup have five grandchildren, one with CF.
In what ways is being a grandparent different to being a parent?
Jack: We don’t have them all the time and enjoy the good times more as it’s not as stressful as been a parent.
Mary: The diagnosis was initially a huge shock. We forgot about the Guthrie test as he was a healthy baby. All those initial questions of how did we pass this on. We couldn’t pin point any body in past generations who may have had it. After the shock we researched all about CF and became excited that kids are now so healthy and wanted to become more involved.
CF affects the whole family in that we look after the other children when Ian goes to PMH. I feel more responsible as a grandparent, because they are not mine. You forget that children like to climb trees, run and experience everything. As a parent you get used to them doing this all the time and it doesn’t worry you so much. As a grandparent I feel more protective about all the grand children; however I always encourage all movement, jumping on the trampoline, riding the bike etc.
Has having a grandchild with CF changed your grand parenting style?
Jack: CF has not really affected our grand parenting style too much. I always try to stay positive and keep in touch with treatments.
Mary: CF hasn’t changed my grand parenting style, only with fatty foods, we can spoil him more. We treat him normal; don’t ever stop him being active. We always have balloons for him. Percussion is exhausting though, 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there.
What was it like the first time you looked after your grandchild with CF?
Jack: I can’t remember the first time we looked after him. He was sick before he started his medications, but once he started treatment he was good.
Mary: We never felt he was fragile and after doing some research we knew that there was nothing that we could really do wrong if he stayed with us. He wouldn’t die if he took the wrong dose of enzymes or if I was doing percussion wrong. He might get a sore belly for one night, but it would be okay.
Do you have any advice for new grandparents who have a child with CF?
Jack: Never give up. There are always new medications and treatments. Do all you can to further research. Always try to spend active time with the kids.
Mary: Naturally love them, make your time with them worthwhile. Don’t be afraid; they are not fragile. Accept that they have CF, don’t look into the future and imagine bad things because you don’t know the future. If you have the time, support the Association, support research. Often we have more time than parents to attend functions and find information. Stay aware of current treatments so that you can support the parents where possible e.g. know how many enzymes are needed.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jack: I have five grandchildren, it’s not really different, just have to be aware of his needs and medications.
Mary: I’m very thankful for Ian. I would never swap him for anything, he brings so much joy. There are worse things in life than CF. It has added a whole new dimension, path way to our lives. We have met lots of people along the way, I feel like part of a group, not alone with all the information and support that we get. Ian’s not a mistake, he is a gift from God and He has a special purpose for him.
Article from RED Magazine, Winter 2012.