Guest Author - Lisa Polovin Pinkus
Intergenerational relationships - like that between a child and his grandparent - provide mutually beneficial advantages for, both, the child and the adult. These interactions contribute to the overall well being of everyone involved and have positive impacts on the social, emotional, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life.
Grandparents can provide companionship, caregiving, mentoring, and support to their grandchildren. Grandchildren can offer companionship, love, entertainment, and a link to modern changes to their grandparents.
When you devote time and energy to ensuring that your children have a strong relationship with their grandparents, you are constructing an eternal bond between generations within your family. Your children will come to appreciate and cherish the importance of these relationships.
Here are some tips (that I have collected by watching my parents interact with my children) for building a strong relationship between your children and their grandparents:
Quality time is what is important. Sometimes, the amount of time that grandparents and grandchildren can spend together is limited. What I have observed, however, is that it doesn’t matter how often they see each other as long as the time together is quality time. A grandparent should avoid building a relationship with his grandchild based on the presents he brings when he visits. Instead, grandma and grandpa should focus on making meaningful memories. Reading together, doing puzzles, or playing outside are all activities that grandchildren will remember.
Common interests will form a natural bond. When your child shares an interest with her grandparent, the connection they experience innately deepen. If your child loves to cook and your mother makes the best chocolate chip cookies, bring them together for a cooking date. If your dad was a basketball player in his youth and your daughter loves basketball, send them to the local high school basketball game for a bonding experience. In my family, I observe my parents taking an interest in the wide variety of activities their nine grandchildren participate in. From swimming to soccer, parkour to ballet, and hockey to drawing - my parents have acquired new interests from being inspired by the passion of their grandchildren.
Stay connected despite the distance Not all grandparents live near their grandchildren, but there are easy ways to stay connected. Planning visits is an obvious solution, but there are other ways to feel close to each other. Technology has been a tremendous advantage to bridging the distance between families. It’s so nice to be able to see the person who you are speaking with. Our family passes a notebook back and forth between cousins and grandparents to keep everyone updated on what’s going on. The younger ones draw pictures, and the older ones provide details of their everyday lives. My children always look forward to seeing and reading about what their cousins are up to.
Create traditions. Establishing traditions that are unique and special to a visit from grandparents creates a long-lasting and beautiful memory. Each time my parents come from Chicago to visit our family in Arizona, we have a gem hunt. My parents acquire the “proper permits” to mine for gems, and we go to a spot in the desert (in the backyard of one of the local resorts where the gems have been pre-planted). All the grandchildren - including the older ones now - still love and cherish the gem hunt.
Grandparents are a link to history. Your children have an opportunity to learn about your family’s history and the way the world used to be from a direct source. My children are blessed to have not only grandparents but great grandparents who have been in their lives. They are sometimes amazed to hear of the modern conveniences that my parents and grandparents had to do without when they were growing up.
The bond between a grandchild and her grandparent can be a source of sustenance, wisdom, and pure delight. The advantage of having the additional adult role models in the lives of your children is - well, priceless.