Building on the cherished and unique relationship between a grandparent and grandchild is a privilege that lasts a lifetime. As your grandchildren grow and mature, the role that you as a grandparent play in their lives changes but the principals remain true at any age. There's a magical bond between grandparent and grandchild like no other!
Here are five tips to help both grandparent and grandchild get the most out of the relationship:
- Discrete boundaries are essential for control and safety. All children
need and have to learn to respect the boundaries that have been established by both parents and grandparent.
Being clear about your expectations before an activity begins frees both you and your grandchildren to enjoy the event and ensures the safety of everyone involved.
If you notice that the boundaries are being crossed, don't be
afraid to remind your grandchildren again.
Don't be afraid to restate the rules as
many times as you need to. Writing the rules down and posting them (and
bringing them along) is a good idea. If a rule is broken during
the activity, ask the grandchild to repeat or read the rules again.
- Gift giving is not a requirement of proper grandparenting. Establish
a practice with your first grandchild and stick with it. Of course, what
you do for one grandchild doesn't necessarily have to be done for all of your grandchildren.
Financial and family situations evolve as our grandchildren grow. If your family experiences the loss of a job or divorce, don't be afraid
to make temporary changes. Remember, gifts are gifts, especially when they
are unexpected. Of course, surprise gifts are always the best. And your gifts don't have to
cost a lot of money.
Research supports the premise that "time together" is
the best gift we can give our grandchildren. Traveling is valuable for providing time for the
grandparent and grandchildren to discover and appreciate each
other's special gifts.
- All boundaries and rules must be consistent with parents' wishes. Anything
you do for and with your grandchildren should be discussed
with the parents first. After all, their parents need to make the rules that your grandchildren must adhere to, and you as the grandparent must support them.
Never keep secrets from the parents and never ask your
grandchildren to keep secrets from their parents. Many
grandparents mistakenly believe that certain types of information should not be shared
with the parents, but this only serves to undermine the relationships.
- There is no substitute for planning. Proper planning ensures
that any activity will be discussed with the parents in advance. Regardless of the age or gender of your grandchild, careful planning makes any
activity more successful. This isn't to say that you can't be
spontaneous, but it's usually better and safer to have a plan that the parents know about.
Discuss with your grandchild what he or she would like to do. Give
careful consideration to the age appropriateness of the requested activities
before you begin. Allowing your grandchildren to make choices increases their
self-confidence and is great training for the future.
- Grandchildren and grandparents alike want to have fun! There is simply no
substitute for good old-fashioned laughter. It's good for
you, your grandchild, and your special relationship.
During the activity
itself, let your grandchildren know how excited you are about doing things with them. Your grandchildren will enjoy getting away from their parents
for a while. And you, like most grandparents, probably enjoy being part of a
very special relationship. And of course parents enjoy an occasional break too.
Grandparents enjoy a special and important relationship with their grandchildren. If you're like most of us, some of your most enjoyable memories involve your own grandparents. Do everything you can to ensure that your grandchildren have special memories of you!
Don Schmitz is a well-known writer and speaker on parenting and
grandparenting. He holds graduate degrees in Education, Administration, and
Human Development. Don is father to three sons and grandfather to four
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