Guest Author - Vannie Ryanes
In 1978 U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaimed that every year, the first Sunday after Labor Day, would be celebrated as National Grandparents Day. To my way of thinking, Mother's Day and National Grandparents Day go together like peanut butter and jelly. I wrote this article a few years ago, much has changed since then, many households have become two and three generation families so there is no need to reach out to grands as we once did. But, do we really understand that they are to be treasured? I have updated and made some additions and deletions in this article but the truth remains, grandparents are precious links to our past.
If you are not part of a two or three generation household, make sure you take measures to help your children spend time and bond with their grandparents. These days most people have telephones and almost everyone has access to a computer, even grandma and grandpa. This has made it much easier to stay in touch when distance is a problem. You can stay in touch by sending a weekly e-mail from the family. If a child is old enough to use the computer, let him add his own sentiments. Don't edit or make corrections, just hit the send button.
The old excuse of not having time to make a phone call is no longer valid now that we have e-mail; a quick "love you" or "thinking of you" can brighten a grandparent's day. Take full advantage of your computer, don't just send e-mails, send those pictures taken at little Mary's birthday party or of the new pet. Nothing forges a bond faster and tighter than the cute things a grandchild has said or photographs that grandparents can brag about to their friends. YouTube and Facebook have made sharing easier than ever.
While e-mail and social sites are a wonderful way to keep in touch, nothing beats a telephone call. If long distance telephone charges are a problem, call once at least once a month and set a time limit on the conversation. Let your children and your parents know when the call will take place. Treat the call (and your parents) with the same respect you would give a colleague and call when you say you will. Treat the telephone call like a visit. A picture in your mind of your parents sitting and waiting by the telephone should be enough to keep this a priority. Later, reinforce the positiveness of the telephone visit by saying "Wasn't it great to talk to grandma and grandpa?". Talk about the conversation that took place, share a fond memory of your parents. Even though you can't be with your parents physically, you can keep a close connection just by talking about them.
Now that you are grown and have your own family, you don't need your parents as you once did. But there may be a point when they need you. Staying in touch lets them know that they are still wanted, needed and appreciated. If you have a large family and can't afford to take the children to visit your parents, think about bringing grandma and grandpa to see the children. If you do decide to have your parents visit, let the children make a welcome basket for them. It should be filled with things that they want their grandparents to see, a copy of a good report card, a painting they are proud of, a handmade gift, etc. Your gift can be a couple of disposable cameras for capturing precious moments and memories. Give each child a camera too--let them take their own pictures to share and save in a scrapbook.
If you have not begun to do so, why not start memorializing those precious memories now with A Grandparent's Book This lovely book is available from Amazon and other booksellers'. Unfortunately, it's questions are geared for only one person to fill them out. Please note this book is for grandma or grandpa not grandparents plural. So buy it and give to the grand who is most likely to write in this journal. Better yet, give one to each grandparent.