What's in this post...
There are amazing benefits of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. From creating a sense of family and history to so much more.
Lately I’ve been reading the Parent’s Guide to Raising a Gifted Toddler and while this whole book is fascinating, I was particularly struck by the section on grandparents.
And why wouldn’t I be? It was my own grandmother who gave me tons of useful advice.
⭐ Including “Start Out How You Can Hold Out.“
⭐ And, “Never marry a man without a hobby or he’ll be under your feet all the time.”
I’ve written before on kids and the elderly and why they are good for one another in general, I wanted to flesh out the grandparent-grandchild mutually beneficial relationship a bit more in this post.
The benefits of grandparents for your kids
Whether you live near family (which is obviously optimal unless your family is extremely dysfunctional) or you are trying to foster the grandparent / grandchild relationship virtually and with visits, here are some things to consider.
1. Grandparents are storytellers.
I remember hearing my grandmother talk about about walking to school for miles. And how she bought her first car. And told my grandfather he had until she turned 26 to marry her or she was moving to Colorado.
My maternal grandfather was in the navy and knew a man named 5/8 Smith. 5/8 because his parents didn’t want him to be “just another Smith.”
My paternal grandfather met with President Roosevelt in the White House and was asked to be the Surgeon General.
These stories were exotic, interesting, and gave dimension to my grandparents that I hadn’t known before. I grew up wanting to be with my grandparents because I liked them as people. Storytelling helps that.
2. Grandparents can give undivided attention.
Parents are inundated with the “urgent” business of today. Particularly when children are little.
Grandparents, when they reach a certain age at least, have a lot more time to just relax and be with the kids. This is a major benefit of grandparents in terms of giving your kids the attention they crave.
My mother (the kids’ nana) often takes one child at a time to her house for the evening to hang out. They’ll play, have a “spa treatment”, eat dinner, watch a movie, etc. You know. The stuff of life.
The kids love it, she loves it, and it’s building a foundation for a relationship that will last years. Because they have so much more time alone in their every day life, they are refreshed and excited to spend quality time with the kids.
3. Grandparents have a broader perspective.
The years bring wisdom, don’t they?
Well I’ve already talked about how a parent can know they’re making wise decisions, but grandparents add a whole other element to this since they are even more wise than us!
Hopefully, anyway. At any rate, they’ve lived longer and bring many things to the table that we parents might not. Children love to hear the different perspectives of both their parents and grandparents.
It is a blessing indeed to have many wise people pouring into your life.
4. Grandparents can say things parents can’t.
We all hope we have open lines of communications with our children as they get older. I believe there are many ways to do this, and it’s not a given that teenagers go through a period where they don’t want to tell you anything.
But still, there are times when a mother or father must simply stand back and trust they’ve given their child the tools to make wise choices. Any pushing may result in the exact opposite result.
Grandparents, however, aren’t seen as the closest authority in your child’s lives and a grandparent can often tell your child something (maybe the exact same thing you would say) but it will be better received.
Simply because it’s not the parent saying it.
5. Grandparents help children learn to interact comfortably with adults.
For me, age has never been an issue. I’ve found it easy to be around people of all ages, and have made many friends throughout the years decades older or years younger.
I credit this to being close with my grandparents. It’s a blessing for your children to be able to converse intelligently with older people.
I believe it will also put your child at an advantage when they are older because they’ll find it easier to talk with prospective employers, professors, co-workers, and mentors.
How to make the best of the grandparent-grandchild relationship from afar
Honestly, the benefits of grandparents are endless for your children.
Here are a few ways you can foster those relationships even long distance.
- Talk regularly through video. My husband’s parents are in Australia which makes it difficult to find a good time to talk, but the kids love seeing their grandparents on video. It keeps the relationship going.
- Write letters. My great uncle and I used to be pen pals growing up. He lived on Cape Cod and I distinctly remember writing him letters about where I had gone rollerblading. A pen pal 60 years older than myself! I went to the Cape in my 20’s to see him and will always cherish that trip.
Here are a few more ways.
- Make time. When you are able to have a visit, even a short one, allow your parents or in-laws to have special time with your children without you present, provided they’re trustworthy. Even if it’s just outside or to the ice cream shop, if you are around the conversation between grandparent-grandchild might never get going if you are around. Allow them to bond.
- Utilize family trees. If your parents or in-laws have family tree information or old yearbooks, etc. let your child read those. You can talk about your parents with them and help them to get to know your family, even if they aren’t around. This will be fodder for conversation when they do see one another.
- Speak well of your family. By speaking highly of the grandparents in their lives, they’ll be interested in maintaining a relationship with them not just as your parents, but as grandparents.
The benefits of grandparents are endless for kids, make sure you take advantage as your children grow up.