My wife, Shirley, and I have six children —three boys and three girls — who have made us grandparents 14 times since March 1979. The last was born in September 2004.

The first 10 were born to my three daughters and their husbands, so I was kind of worried that I may not have a grandson to carry on the Ihara name. But my two youngest sons and their wives answered my prayers and gave us the four youngest grandsons, so I am very happy and thankful.

We were overjoyed that our first grandchild, Cynthia, grew up to be just like her mother, our oldest daughter, Sherry Goya.

We learned then that we could “spoil” our grandchildren, but not punish them, love them and enjoy our relationship with them without having parental responsibilities. We learned that as grandparents, we must let our children take responsibility for their children and that we shouldn’t interfere or criticize how they raise them.

When every grandchild came home for the first time, Grandma Shirley would spend a week or two taking care of him or her. She’d let the new mother rest in bed and do everything for the newborns except breastfeeding. I always went with her, especially to Tacoma, Washington, where our second daughter, Arlene Thomas, had given birth to a daughter and three sons.

Every grandchild brings us a different and unique personal relationship, because their childhood experiences and personalities vary. We love them all, and are happy and proud to be called “grandpa and grandma.”


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