The Blessing of Grandparents: Developing a Special Bond
Grandparent’s Day is coming up on September 8th, and this week we’ve already talked about recreating a special photo to celebrate your child’s grandparents, and sharing a special family recipe with grandkids. Today I would like to focus on some suggestions for how to strengthen the grandparent/grandchild bond. Every set of grandparents is different. I am very fortunate in that my parents and mother-in-law initiate most of the things in this post, but if that is not your situation then maybe this can help you be more intentional about planning the time your children will spend with their grandparents.
Tell Family Stories
Children find it so hard to believe that their parents were once little kids. My boys love it when Grammy tells stories about Daddy when he was little and when my parents tell stories about me. If your child’s grandparents aren’t natural storytellers, you could always ask some leading questions, or start a story and then ask Grandpa to finish it. Asking Grandparents to tell stories from when they were young is also a great way to help children connect with their family history. My boys couldn’t believe it when their grammy told them that on her birthday all she got was her ear pulled one time for each year she’d been alive! And it’s not a bad story to remind them of of they start complaining on their birthdays…
Maybe I’m just not a very patient person when it comes to playing games. In fact, I have been known to stack the deck in Candy Land so that the “special” cards are all in order within the deck and no one has to go back to the silly gumdrop when they are just about to win the game. But that being said, I think grandparents must get a special dose of patience for playing games with young children. My mother-in-law can play Candy Land with my kids and actually enjoy it. I remember Tiff saying something on facebook about how many games of Uno Jake’s mom had played with their kids. Playing games is great because everyone has something to do, it provides opportunities to talk and teach important lessons (like how not to gloat if you win or tantrum if you lose), and it creates special memories.
The first song that my boys learned from their Grammy is the mealtime prayer she sang with their Dad when he was little. We sang that song as a family for many years before we moved on to something different, and when we do sing it, it reminds them of their Grammy. We’ve also enjoyed attending Hymn Sings at the retirement community where my mother-in-law lives. I think it’s neat for the boys to see their Grammy and a whole lot of other people singing songs they know by heart, and the line-up often includes Jesus Loves Me as well. And this last weekend when we were camping with my parents we had a special and memorable time on Sunday morning when we each picked a praise song to sing together.
I love books and reading with my children. You may have noticed that here or here or here. My mother-in-law and my parents also love reading to my kids. When things have been rough and tumble it’s a great activity to calm everyone down. Well, to calm the kids down so they don’t give anyone a heart attack! My boys’ Grammy knows how to pick the perfect book for each child. She’s really great at making them feel cared for in a special way. My mom reads stories with all sorts of silly voices and and sound effects, and my dad can read a lot of Curious George before he wears out. My kids are old enough that they’re not real into hugs and snuggles, but they’ll still cuddle with a buddy who is reading to them!
Do Crafts Together
My mom loves planning projects for the boys to do with her. Before our camping trip last weekend my son told me, “You know how we were reading that book of character qualities? Well Grandma is really creative. She’s one of the most creative people I know.” A simple project from AC Moore, or even just coloring together, serves as a physical reminder of time spent together. My mother-in-law loves to bring home coloring books for the boys, and they enjoy working together with her. She always says coloring is pretty relaxing!
Pray for Each Other
My children have no idea how blessed they are to have a family heritage of faith in both my family and my husband’s family. I know the boys’ grandparents pray for them, and if there’s something specific going on I make sure to as them to pray! I also make an effort to report back on how the situation turned out. But this doesn’t work one way! I encourage the boys to pray for their grandparents too. Recently we prayed for my parents while they were traveling overseas. And once on the way up to my mother-in-law’s house my son even prayed that the meal she was cooking would turn out right!