A child’s relationship with their grandparents can be one of the most important of their lives. Grandparents provide tons of love, have their grandchildren’s best interests at heart, and can make a positive contribution to children’s emotional development and sense of themselves. In today’s world, families are often scattered across the globe, and jam-packed school and work schedules are a feature of modern life.
Although a geographical distance can come between grandparents, their children, and their grandchildren, encouraging a close relationship can benefit everyone. Grandparents provide a cultural heritage and personal history that help children understand who they are and where they have come from. I know from my own childhood how much I enjoyed hearing my grandmother’s stories of when she was a girl. My kids have just spent the past week spending time with both sets of grandparents, and it has been wonderful to watch the interaction between them.
Many grandparents have hobbies or skills, such as knitting and baking, that they’d love to pass on to their grandchildren. It is important for parents to provide their kids with the time and tools needed to learn these skills from their grandparents. My husband’s mom can sew, knit, quilt, and bake so well. The kids spent a whole morning this past week making decorations for the Christmas tree, and baking and decorating star shaped shortbread cookies. My husband’s dad is a bit of a steam train enthusiast, so took the kids to see Santa on a steam train, something for all of them to enjoy. My mom is the grandma that reads book after book to them, and that will take them to the park, and swimming in the sea. The role of grandparents is far reaching. They are nurturers, mentors, role models, family historians, teachers, skill sharers, and for us parents, they are a great source of parenting tips. No matter how reluctant we may be at times to take their advice.
Today, families don’t tend to live so close and technology such as Skype, Facebook, and e-mail means grandparents have many ways to keep in touch. It is important to find the time to send them plenty of pictures and video clips, so they can see their grandchildren growing and developing. If your children are old enough they can send their own pictures and messages. Whist distance may make it difficult you can’t underestimate the need for visits. No matter how infrequent or short they may be, anticipating and planning the next trip can help your child regard that time as special. Young people, who spend time with their grandparents, will learn the values of respect and care for older people. It can also help children to see their own parents in a new light. Seeing their own parent as a child to somebody can help children to understand how relationships change over time.
The obvious benefits of a close relationship between grandparents and grandchildren are not only felt by the children. Becoming a grandparent provides a direct link to a whole new world and the opportunity to stay in touch with another generation. To find out about music and bands, fashion and trends, how education is changing. For grandparents, time with their grandchildren can make them feel younger and give them a renewed confidence in their usefulness and value. It might not always be a smooth relationship. Whilst I loved listening to the stories my grandmother had to tell, she could also be quite strict, and had very old fashioned views on some things, that I didn’t always agree with. Today I see this in my own parents at times, in how they interact with my children. These differences between the generations will always exist, and are what makes the relationships between the generations so special.
beijingkids Shunyi Correspondent Sally Wilson moved to Beijing in 2010 from the UK with her husband and son. Her daughter was born here in 2011 and both her kids keep her happily busy. In her spare time, Sally loves to stroll through Beijing’s hutongs and parks. She is a (most of the time) keen runner and loves reading: books, magazines, news, and celeb websites – anything really. Sally is also a bit of a foodie and loves trying out new restaurants.