I recently returned from an incredible trip visiting my grandparents, my children’s great grandparents. We used to see them at least two times a year for 2-3 months at a time. They’d stay at our house and my three children would soak up every minute with great-grandma and great-grandpa, laughing, hugging and telling stories.
I could see firsthand the extraordinary relationship and the positive impact on my kids, myself and my grandparents.
Being kept away (during the pandemic) made me realize how special it is for my kids to spend time with their grandparents. As time passes and we’re all getting older (grandparents especially), I’m going to make every attempt to keep the bond strong even in these more difficult times of travel and covid concerns.
Everyone wins when children can spend time with their grandparents, and here are 6 major reasons why.
Grandparents are an added layer of unconditional love in a child’s life that builds self-confidence and security. Having an additional support system in the family that the child can trust and look up to creates a comforting environment for the child. One study showed that children who have highly involved grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral issues. With reinforced love and attention, children are less likely to seek it in other places. Their need for undivided attention is fulfilled within the safest walls they know, their family structure.
The unconditional love of grandparents often comes with less stress. Grandparents don’t have the heavily weighted job of raising the children. They’ve done that. Their approach is often more relaxed and supportive. Many grandparents and, in my case, great grandparents are retired, have fewer life stressors —and the ones they do have, they’re more likely to take in stride. These qualities make grandparents fun, carefree and exude a sense of reassurance. It also shows children another layer of life experience that they can observe and learn from.
Children gain a more diverse perspective on life when they’re able to learn from different generations. At home, in the comfort zone, family traditions and habits are created. Generational learning gives children an extended window of how the life of loved ones can be different and still impactful.
Children are typically curious about their parent’s upbringing and how life was ‘back then’. Stories from grandparents and great-grandparents help them use their imagination into a life once lived.
Grandparents have a knack for sharing history and telling stories that help children visualize where they came from. It gives them a deeper, more abstract purpose.g Hearing stories from grandparents and how their life unfolded through joy and hardship helps children see a bigger, more well-rounded picture of life.
It’s not uncommon for family heritage to become diluted as generations evolve. Meaning traditions fade or morph with the current times. Grandparents help keep our family story alive. They’re in a reflective time of their life and do a fantastic job of sharing what life was like in our home country and what brought them to America. They teach my children about how life used to be and help them understand that material things are just things and real joy comes from hard work and experience. Somehow it just sounds different when great-grandma and great-grandpa say it, ha!
Grandparents are the root of family heritage and to be able to share that with children is pure magic.
My side of the family is from Haiti, and my husband’s from Ghana. While we work to keep our culture alive in the household, my grandparents act as historians sharing traditions of our culture. French is their first language and they communicate and teach my children through their world, their language and accent.
The diversity from our culture brings richness to the lives of my children. They cook Haitian meals with my vegetarian grandmother, and I’m certain it’s the reason they love vegetables so much!
Bridges the age gap
Forming deep relationships with older generations helps children understand that all ages have something to offer, have personalities and experiences to share. It helps children take direction from other adults and to respect and communicate with elders. Because of the age difference, generations can easily segregate, having a difficult time finding common ground. But as children develop relationships with their grandparents, they gain a better understanding of older adults creating pathways for developing connections with older generations.
Watching my children learn, grow and respect my grandparents brings me joy and inner peace. The memories they create will help shape my children as they become teenagers and adults. Knowing my grandparents’ journey and seeing evidence of how a family unfolds brings greater meaning, love, and gratitude to our lives.
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