- Grandparents may be one of our Country’s greatest, untapped resources.
- When the elderly and children come together, it creates an environment of warmth and tenderness, as the elderly share their wisdom (and often patience to be able to be around little children).
- Parents can ask grandma to share her life with her grandchildren...including, family stories and traditions of the generations before her. Share something from her childhood, a game, recipe or song; or the names of her parents, grandparents and siblings; and what part of the world her family came from and when they arrived in this part of the country. If Grandma speaks another language, ask her to teach a few words. Pull out family movies and old photos. Make a list of questions to ask, and record her responses in a journal. Video the visit to capture these wonderful moments.
- Grandparents can bless the lives of their own or someone else's children or grandchildren. Truly, all of the extended family (aunts, uncles, and cousins) can support families.
- Many grandparents are now raising their own grandchildren who have been left behind by their parents, due mostly to violence and drugs, incarceration, mental illness, and school absenteeism. This may not be the best option, but for some children it may be the only option.
Grandparents who help raise grandchildren are running errands, babysitting, taking grandchildren to doctor appointments, purchasing school clothes and school supplies, supplementing health care payments, and paying for music lessons, sports, camps and tutoring.
- In Spokane, 909 Grand Families (grandparents responsible for grandchildren) registered in the 2010 census.
Grandparents – God’s Gift to Children
- Grandparents are in a unique position in the family circle to provide a great service. With healthy, traditional families becoming an endangered species, grandparents can be positive contributors in the lives of their own grandchildren, as well as helping children whose grandparents live far away. Be an anchor in a world of shifting values.
“When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which
dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am
persuaded that in thee also.” 2 Timothy 1:5
- Grandparents are the ones who bridge the generations, and pass the values and the important beliefs from the previous generation down to their grandchildren. They do this by the stories they tell about their mothers and fathers, about their grandparents, and about what it was like when they were little.
- Caring grandparents can be a positive (and sometimes the only stable) influence present in the lives of their grandchildren when parents divorce. Be a light to your children, in-laws and grandchildren.
- Grandparents never retire from their family. Grandparents are always a parent. Remain connected to your adult children. Be a light to your children, grandchildren, and in-laws. Actively participate in the lives of your grandchildren. All the adults in the family share the responsibility of raising the youngest generation. Be highly motivated to nurture, support and share your expertise and life experiences with all of your grandchildren—and your wisdom will bless them.
Activities and Sharing your Talents
- Spend time with your own grandchildren, or someone else’s. Offer to rock your neighbor’s babies.
- Make a family calendar with birthdays, anniversaries, family activities, etc.
- Send postcards from places you visit.
- Make special items, like quilts, for each grandchild, allowing them to help.
- Plan family reunions and activities so that children will learn that they have many family members who care about them.
- When you are with the children, do certain things like puzzles, playing games, reading to them, flying kites, baking…
- Attend children’s activities—recitals, school activities, church programs, and games; and they will know you care and are proud of them.
- Help children with crafts. Kids fall in love with crafts, because it’s so different from what they do today with much of their time in front of TV and computers.
- Share your talents and skills with your grandchildren—gardening, sewing, music,cooking, repairing things. "The best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person." Andy Rooney
- Teach your grandchildren to knit/crochet. It has a calming effect and boost to fine-motor skills. It’s comforting, something quiet and peaceful for them to do. Once they are proficient, they will like to chat as their hands fly. This is a great parent-child activity, where they can hang out together and each can work on a project geared to his or her own ability. Age 6 is generally the age kids’ hand-eye coordination improves enough to manipulate needles. Finger knitting and simple crocheting are also easy ways to start. Children can crochet chain stitches into rings and bracelets, sometimes stringing them with beads. Bright, textured contemporary yarns appeal to young fans.
Kids fall in love with crafts, because it’s so different from what they do today with computers. This is a portable craft which can improve children’s concentration. A focused activity with their hands helps kids with their restless energy. Schools can include this in their after-school enrichment programs. They are learning a lifelong skill they can fall back on when times get rough or they are stressed. It’s also a great brain exercise, requiring the use of both hands at the same time; and it helps students with second and third dimensional spatial relationships, as well as pattern recognition and sequencing.
- When you visit your grandchildren, make a point of visiting their schools, attending their activities and meeting their friends.
- School Volunteering. Volunteer in your grandchildren’s schools, if possible.
- Back to School. Prepare a special sleepover or breakfast for Back-to-School, and discuss the importance of doing your best, preparing for college, being honest and not cheating, choosing good friends, talking to your parents about each school day, saying “no” to drugs, proper relationships with teachers, etc.
Expect Good Behavior
- Expect good behavior and respect from grandchildren.
- Don’t spoil your grandchildren by giving them everything they want.
- Teach children social skills and manners.
- Give your daughter and granddaughters pictures of their grandmothers, and encourage them to also live an honorable life with integrity. (Do the same for your boys)
- Record your own voice reading, telling a story, or singing a song.
- Start a family newsletter or family web site.
- Promote family reunions so children will learn that many family members care about them.
- Assemble a family cookbook, including recipes from the children.
- "Research shows that children who know where they came from are more resilient, according to research. They are able to handle problems, do better in school and better socially, because they know they are part of something larger than themselves," said Helen Jackson Graham, English professor. Helen is the Houston area Freedmen's Bureau coordinator, and has 20 years of experience in African American genealogical research. Nurture the interest and collaboration of genealogical and family history research. Linking to other families sometimes brings you right back around to your own family. Help children recover their historical memory. Help them recognize they are part of one human family. Help them discover who they are, where they came from, discover their family stories, and to feel connected and bound to their families through generations. (Source: Reuniting the Black Family: Volunteers Index Freedmen's Bureau Records, by Linda Talbot, LDS Church News, November 4, 2015)
- Children with learning disabilities who know a lot about their families tend to do better when they face challenges." (Source: "The Stories That Bind Us," by Sara Duke (psychologist who works with children with learning disabilities), The New York Times, March 2013)
Holidays and Birthdays
- Don’t expect your children and grandchildren to spend all of their holidays and vacations with you. Allow them to establish their own family traditions and memories.
- Make a family calendar with birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
- Remember each child on special occasions with cards, notes, and phone calls, recognizing their talents and unique abilities. Express your love, appreciation, and faith in them.
- On special occasions, take your grandchildren to the Dollar Store and let them pick out their own gifts, or choose gifts for their cousins.
- Birthdays - Hold an un-Birthday party when all grandchildren are together, with games, cake, and candles.
- Thanksgiving – Invite all the grandchildren to your home the night before Thanksgiving for a sleepover. Help the children make cookies for the table the next day. Do a service project with the children on Thanksgiving Day, to show our real thanks.
- Christmas - Read the nativity story on Christmas Eve. Provide a living nativity with costumes and food. Invite your children’s in-laws if they live nearby.
- Invite your grandchildren to a sleepover at your home, where they bring sleeping bags and sleep on the floor under the Christmas tree. This will allow their parents time to shop for gifts. Prior to going to sleep, ask the children to share Christmas stories and thoughts, and sing their favorite Christmas songs and carols.
- Allow grandchildren to open one gift Christmas Eve–possibly a gift you made for each of them.
- Make or purchase special tree ornaments for the children.
- Treat each child as an individual by doing something special with each one. When grandchildren visit, ask them to do something with you to help you; then, do things the child wants to do.
- Help each grandchild feel safe and loved in your presence.
- Send personal letters and birthday cards to grandchildren, expressing your love, appreciation and faith in them, and recognizing their unique talents and abilities.
Few people write and mail letters anymore. Write to each individual grandchild and leave them something they will keep and hang on to long after you have died. Tell each one what they mean to you, how you felt when you held them for the first time, and what you feel really matters in life.
- Establish a time each week to call your grandchildren. When you call, ask to speak with each grandchild, or one for each call.
- Long-distance grandparents can keep in touch by phone, e-mail, instant messaging, and sending cards and small gifts.
Listen, listen, listen
- Talk less, and be a non-judgmental friend.
- Listen to your grandchildren—their accomplishments, fears, and problems.
- Bond with grandchildren early–as infants, if possible.
- Express unconditional love often to each grandchild. Children can detect insincerity of loving and caring.
- Wrap up children in a warm blanket and hold them till they feel loved.
- Let your grandchildren know that you are doing everything you can to remain in their lives. They will then know they can always count on you, and that you will always love them.
- Pray with your grandchildren, and for them.
- Teach with stories, including scripture stories.
- Give grandchildren a recording of your voice reading or telling a story.
- Read or tell stories that will inspire and motivate children.
- Teach your grandchildren the timeless truths and virtues found in the scriptures.
- Read the same book, or watch the same movie, as a grandchild; and then talk or write about your opinions. Moral principles are in decay, and targeted for ridicule and must be reinforced by those who know them.
Support your adult children
- Support your married children in honoring their values and choices. Hold your tongue, and don’t give advice about the way they are raising their children, unless asked for.
- Take all of the grandchildren into your home once/month so their parents can have a night out.
- Always back up parents (even if you don’t agree) and encourage children to listen to their parents.
- Accept your married children’s new family traditions and priorities.
Traditions with Grandchildren
- Begin meaningful traditions to bind your family.
- Don’t start traditions you cannot continue—such as doing extravagant or very time-consuming things for Christmas, birthdays, births, graduations, etc. Make your traditions manageable for all your grandchildren. Consider gifts such as money, going to the Dollar Store and letting the children pick out their own gifts, buying tree ornaments for children, mailing picture postcards of yourself to remind them of you, making quilts, or making PJ bottoms and purchasing matching shirts.
- Accept new traditions and priorities of your children’s new families.
- Start a tradition of inviting grandchildren to stay a week in the summer, and watch for opportunities to reinforce good values.
- Start a tradition of having 2 slumber parties a year with games, movies, and stories, and then provide a big breakfast in the morning.
- Have a party on Grandma’s bed before bedtime occasionally.
Sharing with the other Grandparents
- Resist the temptation to be the “favorite” grandmother.
- Invite your children’s in-laws who live nearby to family gatherings in your home.
- Remember that daughters or daughter-in-laws are usually closer to their own mothers.
- Be friends and include the other grandparents, when possible.
There are 3 kinds of Grandparents…Which one is you?
- Been There, Done That Grandparents – They are finished raising children and have “had enough.” They often come from large families and raised their own large families. They view their job over, and want a rest.
- Help When Asked Grandparents – They are willing to help out with grandchildren–if parents request it. Many are uncertain about their roles, and choose to remain mostly uninvolved.
- Parents Forever Grandparents – They actively participate in the lives of their grandchildren. They represent about 33% of all grandparents. They are highly motivated to nurture, support and share their expertise and life experiences with their grandchildren. They want to remain connected to their adult children and believe all the adults in the family share the responsibility of raising the youngest generation. They are often the ones most challenged by geographic distances and other factors that separate them from their grandchildren.
- 45% of grandparents live more than 200 miles from their grandchildren.
of all children are living with grandparents identified as the head of
household. (2010 U.S. Census) In addition, the number of grandchildren
living with their grandparents increased 64% between 1991 and 2009.
- Grandparents are projected to make up roughly 1 in 3 adults by 2020.
over 2 million grandparents were responsible for their grandchildren in
2010. (U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey)
- Good news for grandparents. A grandchild for one day keeps grandma mentally sharp and keeps dementia away. Research shows that grandparents who look after their grandchildren at least once a week are less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. The Baptist study showed that post-menopausal women who take care of grandchildren may help them reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of cognitive decline; however, if grandparents were caregivers for 5 days or more, their cognitive function declined. Although an exact reason for the correlation isn’t clear, researchers speculate that regular social interaction can have a positive effect on seniors.
“Spending Time with Grandma - Caring for Grandkids may reduce Alzheimer’s risk,” by George McIntyre, CBS This Morning, January 25, 2015.
"Grandma's brain benefits from time with the little ones," by Jessica Firger, CBS News, April 9, 2014