HOW TO BE A ‘GREAT’ GRANDPARENT!
The smart answer to the heading above is to live long enough to see your great grandchildren! However, that is not what I am intending to discuss today. In a few weeks we are flying down to New Zealand to be part of a big trade show geared to people 45 years old and over. We were invited to have a booth there and to run some short sessions on subjects related to that age group. So, we were asked by the organizer to talk about ‘Successfully Managing Teens’ and ‘Great Grand-parenting’. I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts since we are also grandparents.
What is so great about being a grandparent? The most common retort I have heard to that question is that you can spoil them rotten and then hand them back to their (soon to be frazzled) parents! Whenever I hear someone say that, it seems like they really mean it. I wonder how many of us are guilty of spoiling our grandkids just because we can? I don’t think it is spoiling a grandchild to give them most of your attention while they are at your place. After all, you want to make the most of being together. I don’t think it is spoiling your grandchild to take them on adventures or vacations that perhaps their parents haven’t the time or the money to be able to do.
What I do think spoiling means is not setting any boundaries by allowing your grandchildren to do anything they want and to have anything they want. In other words, you never say, ‘No!’ It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting your grandkids to love you by being their ‘sugar granny’. However, they become spoiled and often disrespectful, demanding and selfish when they think the whole world revolves around them, and you are their servant!
What makes you a ‘great’ grandparent? Kids will want you to be involved in their lives when you show them you love them – not by giving them stuff, so much as giving them hugs and kisses, letting them know that they are special, listening to their stories, going to their school and sports functions and generally having fun with them. The more physically fit you are the more you can offer them in the way of hiking, riding, boisterous play, fishing and taking them places. Even if you have a physical disability, a child will gravitate toward you if you make real eye contact, hold their hand, talk to them lovingly, ask them about their interests and help them learn some of the things that maybe their parents haven’t been able to teach them.
What do you want you grandchildren to remember about you? Here are some of the responses my grandparent friends gave me:
- The grandchildren felt valued. They were told just how much we loved them and that they could always count on us. They were accepted just as they were, unconditionally, made to feel special and treated equally – no favorites. They were assured that our love would never be diminished by their behavior. That it was the behavior that was addressed when necessary. .
- We were great role models. Our positive outlook was an inspiration to them and the memories we built together would last their lifetime. We demonstrated strong positive values and encouraged them to dream big and to be the very best they could be.
- They loved their visits to our home. They had fun, loved our food and did get spoilt occasionally!
- They felt safe and secure emotionally and physically. We were consistent in our love and our discipline and we kept our word.
- We took the time to listen. We shared their joys and comforted them in times of trouble, fear or disappointment, no matter how big or small.
- They learned from us about faith in God. They observed our lives to see if our relationship with God was real and they remembered the teachable moments, when we learned how to make things and were taught how to make wise choices.
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