by Dr. Ken Canfield
How much do you value family togetherness—just enjoying time with children and grandchildren, especially when you get to be with all of them?
As grandparents, most of us are very aware that time together is precious, and the opportunities to have family get-togethers are limited. We need to savor each one.
Maybe that’s what makes us so great at being the keepers of traditions and often the organizers of family events. It’s just natural for the grandparenting role to include devotion to our families, with many outward signs that family is important to us, including making sacrifices when necessary. All of these are important ways we demonstrate commitment to our families.
For many of us it’s nothing unusual; it’s just what we do and who we are. Sure, there are stories about grandparents who don’t want to be involved in their grandkids’ lives, or who let other things get in the way of time with family. But most grandparents are all about family.
Here are some comments from two adults about their grandparents:
My grandparents taught me about being self-sufficient and being responsible for myself. More than that, they taught me about the importance of family, and being willing to help others who need it.
They showed me that time spent is infinitely more important than money spent.
In many ways, grandparents symbolize family.
If you had a relationship with your grandparents, many of your memories about them will draw out images that hold deep family connections for you:
- Maybe it’s all about the porch swing at their farmhouse, where you spent afternoons swinging and talking with Grandma.
- Maybe you think of the old kitchen table where you snapped beans or peeled potatoes, and then all the aunts, uncles and cousins squeezed around it for a meal.
- It could be Grandpa’s tool bench, where he hunted for just the right spare screw to fix your broken toy.
- Maybe it’s their clothes: Grandma’s apron or Grandpa’s overalls.
- The smell of burning pipe tobacco or freshly baked cinnamon rolls.
These memories carry lasting impressions about who you are and where you came from, so it’s easy to see how that can be part of the power of your influence on your grandchildren. So keep it going …
Keep reinforcing the importance of family.
Be proactive about extended family gatherings. In a time when many people complain about holiday gatherings with the whole clan, do all you can to make them positive. It’s important for children to know their aunts and uncles, to see other family dynamics, and to be part of three or more generations relating to each other.
Without laying guilt trips or causing hurt feelings, organize some events and let everyone know their presence is desired. Show the entire clan—including grandchildren—that in your family, togetherness is important.
How do you help maintain a strong sense of family for your children and grandchildren? Share your ideas with other like-minded grandparents on our Facebook page.