Think back to the important and influential people in your childhood. On my list, right after my parents, come my grandparents. I was blessed to live in the same state as all of my grandparents and to even know three of my great-grandparents. My maternal grandmother had slumber parties for
us, my paternal grandmother let me volunteer at her work and taught me my “color palette” (what colors I looked good in), my grandfather took me to the flea market to bargain for tools and trinkets for me, too. I have many lovely memories of spending time with them and even a few not-so-great memories that remind me they are only human, too.
I am a lawyer because my Memaw planted the idea in my mind when I was young. I am a good cook because I learned the art of Southern cooking from my Grammy. I am a prankster because my Grandad demonstrated the craft to me many times.
What about grandparents gives them the potential to be so influential in shaping our childhood and our future? They are the keepers of our family history. Knowing where you came from can be inspiring and grounding.
These are the people that can tell us stories about when our parents were as silly or vulnerable or even as irresponsible as we are. They give us a sense of the continuity of life and that everything will be okay. Their wisdom comforts us.
Often they have time that our parents do not have to let us do their hair (my poor Grandad endured many stylings where I put every barrette I
owned in his hair), or money to spoil us that our parents to not have. There is even research that shows that the family support a grandparent gives can help a family endure crisis. Additionally, that same study reported that adolescents fared better emotionally when they were involved in activities with grandparents. These same benefits were not seen when grandparents were close – there had to be shared activities. See an article on that study here: http://www.grandparents.com/family-and-relationships/caring-for-children/study-grandparents-make-grandchildren-ha.
In some cases grandparents can be great homeschool resources. My Grammy read with my younger siblings and taught me through a journalism course. My mother-in-law took my little one to the mall once a week so I could work with my older daughter or get things done, when she was a preschooler. My grandfather helped with building projects we would conjure up in our heads – treehouses, lemonade stands and puppet theaters. My mother-in-laws generously folds laundry for me on Tuesdays so I can focus on teaching the kids.
Of course, interacting with grandchildren is beneficial to grandparents as
well! It provides productive activity and meaningful purpose in the lives of retirees. Interacting with younger people keeps us acting, thinking and feeling younger. I experience that myself, as the oldest of eight kids (twenty years between me and my youngest sister) as I try to keep up!
Where can you help your kids bond through an activity with their grandparents?
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