Grandparents are a gift: to their grandchild and to their own children, who gain support and wisdom from their experience. Read on for tips on how to involve grandparents in ways other than allowing you to go out to dinner.
How to Really Involve the Grandparents In Your Family (not just as babysitters)
New parents welcoming a new baby face life changes, big and small. On the other hand, grandparents also are new to their role in this growing family. It may be your Mom or Dad, or your now, well-known in-laws welcoming their grandbaby at the hospital, but now they are taking on new positions.
Remembering to be gracious with each other as you learn new roles is important. Grandparents are often excellent caregivers, but it’s important to be intentional about inviting them to do more.
Research demonstrates massive emotional benefits for the grandchild whose grandparents are involved in their lives. The grandparent-grandchild relationship builds the grandchild’s sense of belonging, identity, community, and self-esteem. Invite the grandparents in your family into regular, meaningful times of building relationships and memories.
1. Involve Grandparents in Your Family by Creating Relational Time after a Grandchild’s Events
Grandparents are the most willing audience members for each 5th-grade orchestra performance, 1st-grade poetry recital, and high school musical. In order to further involve grandparents in your family create time before or after the school-age performances to spend time with grandparents. Gather for a meal or dessert when the grandchild can discuss their experiences and hear feedback from grandparents.
2. Be Intentional About Birthdays.
Birthdays are important rituals to participate in as families. Be sure to celebrate grandparent birthdays with your children. Focus not on the age, but on your gratitude for their relationship and favorite memories from the past year.
Be intentional about grandchild birthday parties. If you are planning a large party with your child’s friends, consider having a separate smaller family event where meaningful time can be spent with grandparents.
3. Connect Children with Their Grandparent’s Work
Many grandparents are still working and can welcome their grandchild into learning about their vocation. Is there a day in which grandchildren can visit at work? Are there opportunities for grandparents to share at grandchild’s schools about their work? Additionally, adult grandchildren can learn from their grandparents about their experiences in the workforce and managing family and work-life during a previous generation.
4. Involve Grandparents as Volunteers in Grandchildren’s School and Sports
If Grandma and Grandpa are local, consider all the many ways they can participate in the life of their grandchild as more than just spectators. Teachers welcome regular volunteers and if grandparents are retired, their flexible schedules offer more opportunities to contribute to the school’s needs.
Sports teams often need plenty of volunteers. Particularly, large team sports such as swimming and gymnastics require parent volunteer hours. This could be a great opportunity for sports-loving grandparents to connect with their grandchild, their teammates, and an activity they enjoy.
5. Recognize and Honor Grandparents for Not Parenting
Unless grandparents are raising their grandchild, they are not parenting. Remember this and honor it when grandparents appear to be spoil their grandchild or, operate differently than the parents. They are not the parents. They already did that work.
Grandparenting is a different role with different parameters. Create important boundaries and have discussions about values, but remember that grandparents are not additional parents, and your children will benefit from their special emotional connection and a different approach.
6. Involve Grandparents in Your Family Across a Distance
Many grandparents do not live near their grandchild. Consider what important routines you can establish for communicating across the distance. Video chats such as Facetime are a great way to feel close when you cannot actually be face-to-face. Some grandparents would prefer a weekly phone call from the grandchild. With FamilyApp you can exchange photos and keep the grandparents up to date easily and safe.
Many grandparents still champion the art of letter-writing and could pass on this gift to their grandchild. Distance does not have to mean a loss of close relationship, but requires creativity and commitment to involve grandparents in community.
7. Involving Grandparents in Your Family Lifts up Intergenerational Values
Honoring your mom and dad as they grandparent and continually including grandparents in the life of your family provides emotional benefits for your children. It also models the value of intergenerational relationships.
Children who grow up participating in life with their grandparents, whether face-to-face or across a distance, will value communities that cross-generational divides. They will seek out the wisdom and experience of those older than them. They might even be more patient and inclusive of those who are younger.
Be intentional about inviting grandparents into the rhythms of your life. Their relationships are irreplaceable in the worlds of their grandchild, providing a relationship that makes an impact long after they are gone.