Children thrive with loving and involved parents. And children also benefit from the wisdom and influence of other adults, over and above what their parents can supply. So, your grandkids will profit from the distinct advantages that you bring to their lives, which complement what your kids can give them. Your work isn’t done, grandparent. It’s just become more enjoyable.
According to the Proverb, “Children’s children are the crown of old men.” Same is true for old women, too! Grandparents have a keen sense that they are leaving a legacy, and that can be very motivating and energizing. For many, grandparenting is one of the most joy-filled roles they have ever had.
A UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP
Who can explain what happens between a grandparent and grandchild? The grandparent sits down with his grandchild and tells stories no one has heard before-or stories everyone has heard many times, but they still enjoy the telling. Or, a child asks to see that trick where a grandparent somehow pulls his thumb apart, then puts it back together again. Others can try, but no one can do it quite like the grandparent.
Earlier, the grandparent complained that his back was acting up after he dragged thirty pounds of garbage out to the curbside. But now, he can hoist his granddaughter up for a hug without a second thought, without the slightest pain, almost effortlessly. Blake wants to go try to hook that big catfish in the creek, but he wants to wait until his grandparent can come, because only he knows where the “old monster” lives.
How do you explain it? You don’t. You just enjoy it.
RELATING TO GRANDCHILDREN
As a grandparent, you bring a wealth of wonderful resources for your grandchildren to enjoy. What are the nuts and bolts of a relationship between a grandparent and his or her grandchild? At the risk of taking something magical, breaking it down and robbing it of its charm, here are some practical ideas:
Time is one of your secret weapons as a grandparent; it sets you apart from most of the other influences in your grandchild’s life. You can be a reminder that there are worthwhile, memory-building pursuits that don’t happen in a hurry: chess, reading, sewing, cooking, just sitting and talking, evening walks, breakfast out on Saturday mornings, or sitting on the porch swing and watching the sunset. Your hobby may be the key that unlocks a point of connection with your grandchild. Find the magic and mystery of a pocket knife or a pocket watch. Bring to life those features that make you the grandparent that you are.
Do Little Things.
Some of the best grandparenting comes in cards and letters that you send, maybe with a newspaper clipping or a small trinket that made you think of your grandchild. There are hundreds of little ways to communicate, “You’re special to me.” Consistently recognize your grandchild for good grades, or the ways she is showing her personal character. Reward her just for being the great kid that she is. Send an e-mail or text just to see how her day is going.
Inspire and Motivate.
Your grandchild will have many teachers, coaches, and friends. There will be new challenges and risks around every corner. He will succeed in many ways, but he will also fail. He’ll need comfort, sometimes advice, and always someone to be positive and believe in him, no matter what. You can be a consistent, long-term source of encouragement through all the changes that come with growing up.
Be a Living Library.
There’s a saying: “When an elderly person dies, a library burns down.” Your grandchildren need a sense of family history. They need to hear your stories about what it was like growing up, about your grandparents, about what your sons and daughters (their parents) were like, about that old Chevy you used to drive, about “the good ol’ days.” When you tell stories about aunts and uncles, cousins and grandmas, you convey to them: “You are part of this family.”
The world in which your grandchild is growing up probably has different—or at least changing—definitions for concepts like commitment, sacrifice, respect, honesty, responsibility, work, faith, even love. Passing on values can be one of your grandest roles as a grandparent.
A child will often feel pressure to behave or an ongoing power struggle with her mom and dad. But with you, she can relax a little more. She may listen better and ask more thoughtful questions, like, “Grandpa, when Daddy was seven, was he like me?” “Did he have to clean up his plate?” Or maybe, “Why did Aunt Julie get a divorce?” She’s trying to learn about her world, including school, her family, and relationships in general. You may have a unique opportunity to help shape her young mind. You may also see a chance to support her parents by pointing out all they do for her, as well as reinforcing their established limits and routines.