How To Be A Fantastic Grandparent
Photo courtesy of Chemophilic.
Post written by Sherri Kruger. Follow me on Twitter.
Being a grandparent sounds easy doesn’t it? Popping in for a visit every now and again, having a good play, bending the rules and at the end of it all you get to leave and go home to quiet and order.
But there is a fine line between parenting, which you are likely very familiar with, and grand parenting. There are new expectations and boundaries that come with grandparent status. I was blessed with 4 very loving grandparents who, in my eyes, did fantastically well in their role. They were always encouraging, loving and fun.
I am proud of the grandparents my children have. Grand parenting seems to come naturally to my parents and my in-laws. So what makes a fantastic grandparent? I’ll share with you some of the qualities I’ve seen in my own grandparents as well as my parents and in-laws that have made them fantastic grandparents in my eyes.
1. Respect the rules. You are no longer in charge of making the rules – relief right? But you do need to respect the ones set out by your children. The “if you’re in my house you play by my rules” doesn’t work so well. Doing this can cause confusion for your grandchildren and tension with their parents. If they aren’t allowed to do something like cross the street or go outside by themselves then respect that. But you are grandparents so to spoil the little ones is to be expected. So let them have an extra cookie or a soft drink with dinner. Let them stay up and watch TV a bit later than usual or read them 5 stories before they go to sleep. Bending the small rules is okay.
2. Join in the fun. Get silly and have fun with your grand kids. Some of my fondest memories of my grandparents are from when we were completely silly. Sliding and swinging at the park, flying kites, playing dress up, and ice skating. It’s one thing to simply take your grand kids to the park and something entirely different to get in on the action. Plan tea parties, get out some old clothes and play dress up, pitch a tent in the living room and have a picnic lunch, play tag in the park. The possibilities are only limited to your imagination.
3. Be a mentor. As if by default, you, as a grandparent, are the coolest person on the planet. In a kids eyes you are wiser, nicer, and more patient than mom and dad. You can take this opportunity to build a special relationship with your grandchild. Take on and embrace the role of mentor. Teach your grand kids to do things that their parents can’t, don’t have time to, or lack an interest in. Show them how to make a kite from scratch and then fly it in the backyard. Teach them how to plan a garden and plant flowers accordingly. Build a bird feeder or toy box. There are a lot of projects you can do together that are fun and interesting.
4. Stay connected. A fantastic relationship with your grand kids won’t just fall into your lap, you do need to put effort in. Spend quality time with them. If you live close by take the opportunity to visit your grand kids frequently. If you don’t live close enough for frequent visits pick up the phone or set up a web cam. One of my fondest memories I have with my gran is exchanging hand written letters as a way to keep in touch while my husband and I were living in Australia. We also spoke on the phone but it’s the hand written letters that are especially memorable.
5. Share stories. You are the family historian. Your life so far is full of interesting stories of days gone by. Share them. Recount your tales of walking 10 miles to school, through 4 feet of snow, uphill both ways. Let them know what life was like before the Internet, cell phones and MP3 players. Share stories of when their mom or dad were little and what funny things they did. If you feel up to it capture these stories and some family history on paper. Keep notes on important family names and dates, significant holidays or special events. This way your grand kids will have something to look back at when their memory of the stories begin to fade.
6. Love them. This is the by far the most important thing you can do to be a fantastic grandparent. Show your grand kids you love them. Hugs, kisses, piggy back rides, long walks pulling them in the wagon, and never missing a chance to tell them you love them. Show an interest in what they are currently interested in – sports, hobbies or TV shows. Showing love and building a caring relationship goes a lot farther than any material gift you can give them.
From what I can tell being a grandparent is an amazing experience. It takes a bit of effort on your part to make it work but the relationships you create are certainly worth it – not only for you but for your grand kids as well.
What other qualities are found in fantastic grandparents? I have a feeling I’ve only scratched the surface.http://www.zenfamilyhabits.net/2009/12/how-to-be-a-fantastic-grandparent/