NANA’S HOUSE by Teresa Kindred
Research from the University of Oxford proves what many of us already knew. The study said: “A high level of grandparental involvement increases the well-being of children. A study of more than 1,500 children showed that those with a high level of grandparental involvement had fewer emotional and behavioral problems.”
A different study by Boston College found that emotionally close bonds between grandparents and adult grandchildren reduced symptoms of depression in both groups.
I don’t know about you, but that’s all the scientific proof I need!
I’ve interviewed hundreds (maybe thousands) of grandparents, so I have a lot of information on what works and what doesn’t when it comes to the grandparent relationship. Not only do I write about it, I research and read articles on the topic daily. Many of my friends are grandparents and we frequently discuss our thoughts, feelings and concerns about being a grandparent.
All my “research” has led me to 5 reasons why grandparents are extremely important people in their grandchildren’s lives.
1. Grandparents set an example.
My Grandma Layne was the epitome of a southern Christian lady. I never heard her utter one single curse word (and she lived to be 89). She went to church every Sunday, devoted herself to her family, was an amazing cook and, according to my brother, the worst board game player in the world because he beat her every single time. Children’s first and best teachers are their parents, but grandparents are a close second. In my case it was my maternal grandmother who impacted my life (my paternal grandmother died before I was 2), but I have many friends who are very engaged fraternal grandparents. Our daughter and her husband have 3 children, and my son has 3 as well. I love them all equally and treat them the same. Each and every grandchild is my favorite, and that’s the way it was with my grandmother, too.
2. Grandparents share memories and stories of the past.
Grandparents can paint word pictures of the past better than anyone else! Children love hearing funny stories about their parents when they were young. My daughter’s children love hearing about the time I found their mom (she was a toddler at the time) with her cheeks stuffed full of rabbit poo from their aunt’s potted plants. My parents died before my grandchildren were born, so it’s up to me to share stories about my parents and my grandparents with them. I am a link in the family chain to the people my grandchildren will never meet, and you are too! Share your family history with your grandchildren. It’s a story only you can tell!
3. Grandparents aren’t the parent.
When our 5 children were young, I often joked that I felt more like a drill sergeant than a mom. The logistics of getting them up, dressed, to school, church, and extracurricular activities was exhausting. I had a sense of humor back then, I’m just not sure how often my children saw it. It’s so much easier being the grandparent. I’m no longer a drill sergeant! I can laugh, play and really enjoy just being in the moment. Being a good parent is hard work. Being a Nana is good old-fashioned fun. Children need rules and boundaries, and I follow the rules my children set for their children, but I’m way more relaxed now than I was when I was “The Mom.” I think most grandparents feel the same way, and that’s a great benefit for the grandchildren.
4. Grandparents can help.
By the time your child has a child you have a wealth of life experiences, and you can share them (when asked) with your children. Many grandparents help by babysitting. Even long-distance grandparents help out when they can. I met one grandmother who has grandchildren on the east coast and the west coast. She visits each house once a month and stays for a week at a time! Some grandparents can afford to help financially with the cost of raising a child. Each year before school starts, some friends of mine take their grandchildren school shopping. If you have ever taken a child school shopping, you know what a great gift that is! There are lots of different ways grandparents can help out. If your adult child is a first-time parent, they especially may need help.
5. Grandparents can be a shelter during the storm.
No ship can sail across the ocean without running into occasional storms. My mother was diagnosed with colon cancer when she was 50 years old and died a year later. My grandmother had a stroke and dementia in her final years. Without faith (which my parents and grandparents had taught me to hold on to), I don’t know how my husband and I would have made it. We lost my father-in-law the month before my mother passed. Five years later my father had a heart attack and died. Grandparents can be an anchor of faith and spiritual wisdom. They can lead by example and preach a sermon with their lives. I know that’s true, because mine did.
I Hope You Feel Important
Because I have spoken with so many grandparents, I know without a doubt that grandparents are extremely important people, but I also know that there are many broken and splintered families who don’t allow visitation between grands and grandparents. Each situation is unique, but family disagreements are never good examples for children. If you can’t resolve the situation, please consider getting help.
Someone once said:
The days are long, but the years are short. That applies to being a grandparent as well. Enjoy the ride with your grandchildren! Make happy memories however and whenever you can!
Teresa Kindred is a freelance writer, former teacher, and author of several books, including The Faith-Filled Grandmother. She’s the mom of five grown children and “Nana” to seven precious grandchildren. She and her husband live in Kentucky. Her blog for grandparents is at NanaHood.com.