If you have ever turned to your parents or your partner’s parents for help with childcare or advice about child-rearing, you know how important and how wonderful grandparents can be. Physical distance, ill health, and differences in styles of parenting can sometimes create a gap between grandparents, their kids, and their grandchildren. However, despite this, if you can encourage a close relationship between your children and their grandparents, everyone can benefit.
Having a strong bond with their grandparents can be wonderful for your children in lots of different ways. Their grandparents can be another positive role model and influence in their life. Grandparents can also help your children to get a better idea of their cultural heritage and feel closer to their family history. They can provide your children with more love, have their best interests at heart, and can help them to always feel safe and loved.
A close bond can also mean that a grandparent can help you to encourage your children to develop in a healthy way. As an adult they love and trust, staying overnight at Grandma’s house can be less scary for a first time sleeping away from home than a sleepover at a friend’s house. Being able to spend time away from home in a less scary way can help your children to build up their confidence until they do feel ready to stay with friends. If your parents live in senior living apartments, double-check the rules about the grandchildren staying over.
Another big benefit is that if their grandparents are retired, they might have a lot more free time than you to spend on things like playing with your children or reading to them. Dedicated attention like this can only aid your child’s development and help them to learn new things.
Tips For Staying In Touch
It is very common today for families to be spread out and scattered across the country, if not the globe. School and work schedules are very busy now too, which can also interfere with how often your children can spend time with their grandparents. Despite the physical distance and busy schedules, you can still encourage your children to have a close bond with their grandparents. There are lots of ways that you can help them to stay in touch and grow and maintain their bond.
Try some of these tips:
- Visit often. If your child’s grandparents live close enough, try to make an effort to make in your busy schedule for regular visits. Encourage the grandparents to visit you at your home too. Perhaps you could agree on a regular visit day, such as having dinner together on a Wednesday or always having Sunday lunch at Grandma’s. If the grandparents live out of town, make sure you find time to plan regular trips to see them too. Even if these visits are not as frequent as you like, anticipating, planning, and talking about the next trip can help your child to see the time with their grandparents as something special.
- Stay in touch with technology. Thanks to advances in technology, it is easier to stay in touch than ever. As well as the obvious phone calls to keep in touch, you can also use email, Skype, WhatsApp, and more for calls, and to send messages about and pictures and sound files of your children. You might have to teach the grandparents to use some of these options, but they can really help. You could also ask the grandparents to record things for the children, such as recording them reading a bedtime story which you can play at bedtime for your children to help them feel closer together.
- Use pictures. Take lots of pictures of the grandparents, and put them up around your home. Point these pictures out to your children often. You can also keep family pictures in a special photo album, and spend some time with your children looking through it and helping them to name all the family members. This could also be a nice way to show them other family members that they do not get to see very often and tell stories about your family history.
- Send mail. All children love to get things in the mail, whether it is an email or the through the regular post. Help your children stay in touch with their grandparents in a fun way by sending emails to each other. Both the children and the grandparents will enjoy doing this. It is also really easy to send pictures through email to share snaps of daily life from both sides. Letters are also a lovely way to stay in touch. Buy your children some nice stationery and encourage them to write letters. Postcards are fun to send too, whether from your vacations, day trips, or just from your home town. You can use postcards as a quick way to send a message from children who might struggle to write a whole letter.
- Pass on skills. A lot of grandparents have interesting hobbies or skills, many of which are older planets that are being lost as they fall out of fashion, such as knitting, gardening, woodworking, or cooking. They would probably love to share these hobbies with their grandchildren. Encourage them to share and pass on their skills. Buy your children any equipment they might need, such as an apron for cooking, or small tools for the garden, and send them off with their grandparents to learn. This is a great way to spend time together and can help your child to learn some useful skills too.
- Chart a family tree. Children often enjoy learning about where they came from and their ancestors and other relatives. Who better to teach them about family history than their grandparents? Encourage the grandparents to share stories of their own childhoods, other parts of the family, and the family history. Set up a fun project to make a family tree. Provide some paper and drawing supplies, or some genealogy software, and help your children to chart the family tree with their grandparents to learn more about the family. This could be an interesting project for you too.
Safety Away From Home
Whether the grandparents live nearby or you are planning to visit grandparents who live out of town, make sure you are making safety a priority, just as you would at home. If these are their first grandchildren, your parents might be out of practice at having small children around the house. Their houses may not be child-proofed, and some common household hazards can easily end up with a trip to the emergency room.
Use a household safety checklist and take some time to work with the grandparents to go through their home and make sure it’s been properly child-proofed. Make sure that any potentially dangerous items, like medicines, cleaning products, knives, or razors, have been stored well out of your child’s reach. They can go into a high-up cupboard that your children aren’t tall enough to get into, or into a cabinet that can be locked. Walk through the home together to look for any other potential safety hazards, like loose wires and sharp corners. The grandparents might not realize that small or breakable items, like their ornaments, can be a safety risk or a choking hazard for small children.
Prioritizing time with the grandparents is enjoyable both for the grandparents and your children and can be a great way for you to get a bit of a break too. Grandparents are often happy to babysit or have the children for a weekend so you and your partner can have some time together too.