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Grandparents And Grandchildren - A Special Bond

Five tips for successful grandparenting

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 granddaughters.

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