Ours is a world on the run; world in a rush. As parents, we love our children and so we hurry them off to the best schools, tuitions, sports sessions, music classes and so on. We work ourselves to the hilt to give them the best of comforts. The consequence is very less time to nurture, care and love our children. We need to take time out for our children and just be there for them. We cannot forfeit that responsibility to someone else. Yet in the midst of all our challenges our own parents are like a lease of new life to our children.
As Bill Cosby put it, ’Because grandparents are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.’ They are able to move beyond the petty things and extend more grace, kindness and acceptance to the young ones. Even strict parents become indulgent grandparents.
Marcy DeMaree said, ‘What is it about grandparents that is so lovely? I’d like to say that grandparents are God’s gifts to children. And if they (grandchildren) can but see, hear and feel what these people have to give, they can mature at a fast rate.’
No wonder we call them ‘Grand’ parents. They are able to be involved in a greater level of parenting in our children’s life. Grandparents have an amazing opportunity to leave a legacy that will last through generations. Indeed this is possibly of greater impact than even their best moments of career successes.
Here is a glimpse of what you as a grandparent can bring to your grand children-
- Give time and love freely to invest in their life- build special memories together Now that you may have more time to spare what better way to spend it than give freely of it to your grandchildren and build a special bond that lasts beyond your lifetime. Even across miles you can connect through the internet, phone, letters and so forth. If you make this a priority from the time the kids are young, even in their teenage years you can be their safe house and refuge.
- Respect your child as a parent and work with them not against him/her. Ultimately your children are the parents and you cannot try to pillion drive them. You can guide, encourage and help but never overrule them as this will hurt both your relationship with your children and with your grandchildren. So even if you don’t agree with your child’s parenting style it is best not to overrule but to abide. Therefore,
- Be willing to talk things over.
- Ask your adult children what kind of help they most need.
- Support your adult children in their parenting.
- Notice what they do well and tell them.
- Ask their advice. Don’t expect them to take your advice.
- One of the best things that you can do for your grandchildren is to support their parents.
- Accept each grandchild for their uniqueness and do not compare between grandchildren: God has given you this beautiful opportunity to influence the next generation. So be careful what influence you are having. One of the biggest mistakes that can happen is comparing one grandchild against the other and showing favouritism. Your role is to accept each child for who they are and love them in spite of their short comings. In the world, they find enough comparison to do much damage. Do not add to it but nurture their self-esteem by accepting them for who they are.
- Nourish your relationship with each grandchild- encourage, bless, guide: You are in a unique position of building and nurturing this relationship and using it as God’s instrument to encourage, bless and guide them to be all that they have potential to be. Keep them in touch with their past as they surge ahead by:
- Keeping the family history alive- Help grandchildren to know where they fit in the world by telling stories about the family. Tell them stories about their parents when they were young.
- Keeping the family connected- Keep in touch with all the family members. Have the whole family together for family events and celebrate yourselves.
- Letting the family know about old family traditions as the family grows and changes and new traditions are built.
- Helping them understand Godly family values that have come through the generations that might be lacking in the outside world. Let every grandchild have a special memory of you.
- Demonstrate through your life values and attitudes that which you want to see in them. To establish grand relationship with grandchildren, involve them in your life.
They will learn a lot from just watching you so involve them in your life. It is easy to criticise your children for their imperfect parenting and your grandchildren for not meeting your standards. But if you can walk the talk and live out the standards and values that you want them to have, there is a greater chance that they will catch on too. Informal teaching and legacy is passed on through your life.
“Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children.” Linda Henley