While some grandparents are fighting for grandparents’ rights, others are actively involved in their grandchildren’s lives. Grandparents can be a vital part of a grandchild’s support system in teaching moral, social and spiritual values…working side by side with parents.
Inviting one grandchild at a time for an activity gives you precious one-on-one time. Your activities could range from cooking a meal together, working in the garden, shopping, playing games, and having a sleep-over.
Taking a grandchild out for a meal and doing a little shopping has always been a hit with my grands. It gives me the opportunity to visit with the child and find out what his individual interests are. One grandson calls me and asks, “Nana, can I come and spend the night? I need a break!” Of course, I’m delighted that he chooses my home for his respite.
Sleepovers are just the best. Sometimes they come one at a time but, more often than not, their cousins, of similar age, join them. We have a jolly good time, eating, watching movies, and playing games. Often we do simple crafts together.
Choose activities that are unique to you, your budget, and your circumstances but, spend time with your grandkids. You can be a support to their parents and a positive influence on them in this unstable world.
Oftentimes, grandparents become the sounding board for their grandkids. Kids love to share information about school and their friends to a listening ear. These conversations will help you to know each individual child better and understand his hopes and dreams.
Other times, they may come to you with concerns. Make it a point to listen without judgment and criticism so the child feels free to express his heart. An overabundance of advice from you can slow the flow or stop the conversation. Perhaps a subtle approach later would be wiser than giving too much advice at the time. As the old adage says… “Timing is everything.”
Often, parents don’t have the time or energy to teach their child a particular skill; an extra “leg up” from you is a blessing. You can support your grandkids, and their parents, by teaching or reinforcing everyday skills.
I know a fourth grader who was having trouble with simple fractions. Grandma had him over and they baked a cake together. The practical applications of measuring the ingredients helped reinforce the concept of fractions.
My grandma had a garden. I helped her pick peas, shell them and prepare them for the freezer. I not only learned a skill but it gave my grandmother the opportunity to tell me about her life while we were working together. The stories are still vivid in my mind.
My “Grandma Library” is a special collection. These books can’t be used unless we sit down and read them together. When I suggest we read a book, the children run to select their favorites from a special bookshelf. It’s humorous that they often choose the same book over and over again, and that’s fine with me. The most important consideration is, that we read together and enjoy each other’s company.
Several years ago, a couple of my older grandsons went with me to the library and, we pick up the classic chapter book, “The Boxcar Children,” by Gertrude Chandler. It was a nice summer afternoon and, we sat on the tailgate of my car and I began to read. When darkness fell upon us, we had to suspend our story until a later time. We had been reading the book for over four hours. The boys still talk about that afternoon.
One grandmother takes each grandchild shopping and to lunch before the new school year begins. On Halloween, another grandma has chili and donuts before the kids go out door-to-door to collect their treats. The logs in the fireplace are lit, marking the beginning of the fall season. What traditions do you have in your family?
One granddaughter and three grandsons come to my home for a sleepover on Thanksgiving Eve. They wash down the tables and bring up the extra chairs from the basement. The good dishes and flatware from the china cupboard are used to set a formal table. I keep thinking they’ll lose interest in this tradition but so far they haven’t and, one of my grandsons is twelve.
There’s nothing like a good story from the past. Sharing stories from your past will give your grandkids a sense of who you are and, your stories will take on special importance because they’re true. Your history will become an heirloom in their hearts. It will give your grandkids a sense of identity to learn about their ancestors.
My grandmother came from very poor circumstances. Through her stories, I learned to appreciate her courage and determination in rising above her poverty level to become a successful businesswoman. My grandfather not only shared memories about himself but stories about his mom and dad.
One grandma is a pen pal with her granddaughter. Their letters are hand written and often contain little trinkets and memorabilia from their day-to-day lives. One grandpa sets aside Sunday evenings to visit with his grandson by phone. Another grandma set up a family forum site that allows her to communicate with her children and grandchildren. They share family news as well as post photos frequently.
Summary: You have your own style of grandparenting and every tip will not work for every grandparent. Evaluate your circumstances and decide what will work for you and your grandkids best. You can show your love in many ways. Be creative and choose ways that suit you best. The important thing is, to take an active part in your grandkid’s lives. You can make a tremendous difference.
Kathryn Griffiths, Insightful Nana, is the Nana to 15 grandchildren. More articles like this can be found on her website: Insightfulnana.com Kathryn is also the author of an incredible book to help parents raise fantastic kids.