Did you know?
• 62% of grandparents provide financial support to their grandchildren and adult children. The most common financing? Cash for something special.
• 55% play video games with their grandkids.
• 92% have changed a diaper for one of their grandkids.
• 75% use the Internet.
• 45% use social networks, such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
Surprised? While research is showing that grandparents are growing and changing with time, one universal rule about grand-parenting has remained consistent: Over half of grandparents think that being a grandparent is “the single most important and satisfying thing in their life.”
What kind of relationship does your child have with his or her grandparents? Even if you might have mixed feelings about your parents, your child can still develop deep bonds with grandparents and learn a lot from them. Here are some ways grandparents bond with their grandchildren:
They provide childcare:
Many grandparents provide child care for their grandkids. In fact, Seventy-two percent of grandparents say they take care of their grandkids on a regular basis, and thirteen percent are the primary caregiver for a working parent. Yet, not all grandparents are great caregivers, nor do some want to be. While some grandparents are great caregivers, you may be better off finding a nearby family child care or a child care center that can care for your child. If you want one of your parents or one of your in-laws to care for your child on a regular basis, it’s important to have an honest discussion about that without getting uptight about money.
They schedule regular, one-on-one time with their grandchildren:
Seven out of ten grandparents say they see their grandkids at least once a week. Even if you swing by for a short visit (or your parents stop by), the time between grandparent and grandchild is critical. Try to create ways that they can spend time together alone.
Ask your kids what they think of their grandparents. Ask them: What do you enjoy best about spending time with each grandparent?
No matter what your parents’ or in-laws’ health or financial situation, it’s still possible to find ways for your children to connect with them, and have meaningful experiences together.
For example, some friends of ours always talk about the time the grandkids gave their grandmother a makeover. They painted her fingernails, gave her a new hairstyle, and put make up on her face. The grandmother just smiled because she could barely move or talk due to being hospitalized for cancer. After she died, the grandkids missed her terribly and talked about how much they enjoyed being with her even when she was so sick.
They express their love in small, meaningful ways:
My dad always enjoyed taking my kids fishing. My father-in-law loved having my kids help him in the garden, whether that was planting seeds or harvesting vegetables. My mom always loved reading to them and taking them places, whether it was to the store or to the zoo. My mother-in-law just loved being with them.
Think back to when you were a child. What were your fondest memories of spending time with a grandparent? I loved eating raw peas out of pea pods with my grandpa and grandma in the garden. I loved the smell of my other grandma’s house. (She was a great cook, and she was always cooking something.) She also had a shuffleboard laid into the tiling of her basement. We used to spend hours playing that game.
But what I remember most was how I felt with my grandparents. They loved me. They smiled when they saw me and were excited when I came. One of my grandpas loved to sneak me sweets under the table.
It’s true that you need to protect your kids if they have a grandparent who is abusive or has an addiction, but it’s also true that all kids can get to know their grandparents and develop a bond with them.
Tell Us: ——> How do your kids bond with their grandparents?
1. The Editors of Grandparents.com, “Surprising Facts about Grandparents,” September 13, 2009.
2. Getting Relatives Involved with Your Kids, ParentFurther.