I never really experienced the grandparent-grandchild bond. My dad’s parents died before I was born, and my mom’s dad was never in the picture. My Grandma Louise (or “Louie” as we called her), my mom’s mom, lived in the next town over from us growing up. While only a few minutes away, we rarely saw her; she led a particularly private and secluded life. Once or twice a year she ventured out of her smoke-filled one-bedroom apartment to attend the obligatory holiday dinner at our house.
Armed with a tin of stale cookies and a forced smile, she grinned her way through the festivities year after year. As time passed, visits became less frequent. Though she made a decent effort to be in our lives, she never fully assumed the role of “beloved granny”. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that she was intentionally aloof or uncaring; she was simply an introvert, resulting from her own rigid upbringing.
She passed away shortly after I started college, which coincidentally, was across the street from where she lived. I regret not visiting her during my lunch hours or taking the time to get to know her more when she was alive. As a young and immature college student, regrettably, my priorities were elsewhere. Though the rest of my family was otherwise close (more about my family here), I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on that special grandparent-grandchild bond that all my friends had and cherished. Now that I’m a mom, it’s important to me that my kids have close relationships with their own grandparents; that extra layer of love and support is beneficial in so many ways.
Forging the Grandparent-Grandchild Bond
Kids who have relationships with their grandparents often become more confident, self-assured adults. Spending time with grandparents connects them with their past and exposes them to different customs and traditions. Sure, they might come home with a new passion for Werther’s Originals and reruns of Murder She Wrote, but where there’s no harm, there’s no foul. By the same token, they gain a better appreciation of their heritage and a deeper respect for their elders.
Becoming a grandparent comes with its own unique advantages. Tech-savvy kids can help shed light onto the latest technology and media, and bring Grandma up to date with 21st-century lingo. Regular visits with the grandkids improve health, vitality, and mental acuity. I’m always shocked when I see my dad on the floor playing with his grandkids at the age of 71! The truth is, I’ve never seen my parents happier than when they’re spending time with their grandbabies; and of course, our kids absolutely adore spending time with them.
To Grandmother’s House, We Go!
Time spent with the grandparents is carefree and fun-filled. Kids get a break from strict daily schedules and the disciplinary constraints of home, to cut loose, indulge, and have a good time. In short, they get spoiled. A Grandparent’s tolerance for chaos is often higher because the burden of parenting doesn’t fall on their shoulders. They can spoil the kids rotten, pump them full of sweets and send them on their way. What’s more, time away equals money saved. One of the best perks for mom and dad is the free babysitting!
Perks for the Parents
Whether providing daycare or weekend getaways, grandparents help cut childcare costs and provide us parents with some well-deserved time off. Whenever our kids are enjoying their time away, we take full advantage of our time alone. Sure, we like to squeeze in a date night here and there, but more often than not, we’ll catch up on sleep and just revel in the peace and quiet. A weekend at the grandparents is a welcomed reprieve for parents needing to recharge and reconnect with one another. As nice as it is though, it rarely comes without some setbacks.
Bumps in the Road
Preparing for Grandma’s house usually involves packing an entire car full of your kid’s worldly possessions just to get them through a day or two. When they come home, they’re often sleep-deprived and crabby. It can take a couple of days to get them back into their regular routines. Unpacking is just as dreadful. But if you’re like my husband and me, this is a small price to pay for childless sleep and personal bathroom time. Our kids are lucky to have my parents right around the corner. To magnify our good fortune, they have two more sets of grandparents, as well as two great grandmothers across the country. Not all parents are as lucky as we are though.
The Big Bad Wolf
We’ve all heard stories of the overbearing “monster-in-law” who constantly disregards your wishes and undermines your parenting efforts. There’s not a mommy forum or internet group that exists without page-long threads dedicated to MIL bashing. Other times she’s the “smother-in-law”, always coming over uninvited, and monopolizing every minute with your kids. Whether her heart is in the right place or black as winter coal, your tiny sweetlings think the world of her. Sure, it can be hard to swallow your pride, but it’s in your kids’ best interest to bury the hatchet.
Over the River and Through the Woods
Distance can be another issue making it hard for grandparents and grandchildren to connect. Video chatting and social media suffice in a pinch, but they’re no substitute for actual hugs and kisses. Your options boil down to traveling with kids, which let’s face it is usually a nightmare, or temporarily accommodating company. Sure, it’s disruptive having houseguests when you’re used to adhering to schedules, but try to remember, the chaos won’t last forever. While it’s not ideal cramming everybody under one roof, we have to remember to count our blessings. Not every grandparent is in the picture.
The “Grimm” Truth
Your kids are your pride and joy. If you’re dealing with uninvolved grandparents, it can be heart-wrenching. Whatever the reasoning behind their distance, it’s never worth your kids feeling unwanted or rejected. Because there are a number of scenarios (and I won’t go into those) why grandparents may or may not be involved in their grandchildren’s lives, as parents, it’s up to us to make the right decisions to protect our kids. The reality is, some people are just unfit and undeserving of our kids’ love. We have to decide if a relationship is worth the time and effort, and most importantly, our babies’ hearts.
The grandparent-grandchild bond is unconditional and unparalleled. While encouraging this relationship isn’t always seamless, what often results are beautiful, lifelong connections worth every bump in the road. So, make the best of the time your kids have with them because grandparents won’t be around forever.
Related to “The Grandparent-Grandchild Bond”:
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The Ties That Bind: 5 No-Fail Ways To Promote Family Togetherness
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