You may not have considered it, but having your children get to know your parents is a very important connection for both sides. So important in fact, that a study by the American Sociological Association discovered that a grandparent-grandchild relationship could have long-lasting effects on the psychological wellbeing of both parties. Kids are inquisitive by nature, and it’s only natural they want to get to know their grandparents, ask questions, and perhaps even look to them as a role model or mentor as they grow up.
With this very special bond in mind and understanding just how beneficial the relationship between your kids and grandparents is, here are some ways that you can help grow and foster the connection for a healthy and beautiful relationship.
Engaging with your parents
As a starting point, you need to ensure that your children meet and engage with your parents. Depending on your situation, this can mean taking your children to your parents’ house and going on holiday with them all together, which is sure to create lasting memories your children will hang on to.
Alternatively, your parents may be in an assisted living facility like Brandywine Living at Brandall Estates, where you will be able to encourage activities and interaction together. If you’re unsure of what activities there are at the facility, be sure to speak to the staff and get some tips and advice on how you can make the most of your family visits.
You want to make that connection between your parents and your kids as early in their life as possible, so the bond can start forming. Just like with any bond, consistency will be necessary. Obviously, not everyone lives close to their parents, so getting in those physical visits may not always be possible. Thankfully we have technology that can make connections much easier. If distance is an issue, look to have regular video chats – even if that is just once a week for a quick 15 minutes, it starts to create a bond and build consistency.
Talking about the past
One way to get these two groups connected is through discussing family history. Your parents will know a lot more of your history, be able to tell your kids stories about you and their own parents. They can share pictures or scrapbooks to help bring the story to life. Your children will be able to see you in a different light as well.
You can even give kids a challenge and task them with creating a family tree with the help of their grandparents. This is a great way to spark these types of conversations about family history and the past. They can learn all about their roots, as well as all those cute and fun personal stories that grandparents are known for sharing.
You can never underestimate one on one time either. If you have several children, it can be a good idea to ensure that each child gets to spend quality time alone with their grandparents. If both your parents are alive, splitting the kids between them can help to make this easier. In so doing, each relationship has the chance to build without too much external input.
It may also be a good idea to set up individual playdates, meaning one child gets a whole day with your parents on their own, and then next time it’s a different child that gets their chance.
You should also never underestimate the power of games. Nowadays, a lot of games played by children are via digital methods. However, taking things back to good old-fashioned board games can be a great way to move forward in building these relationships. It helps if you encourage your kids to play games your parents will know, which means your children might also learn something new.
Many of the games you would have played as a kid with your parents are probably still around, so this can be a fabulous family bonding activity.
Don’t be competitive
While we recommend playing games, it’s important not to become competitive when playing or encouraging these relationships to build. You should not try to force your children to like your parents better than your partners. In line with this, try and pass this on to your parents too. No one will win if there’s a competitive edge to the entire relationship process.
Have your parents teach your kids a skill or hobby
Teachable skills and moments are also another great bonding opportunity. For example, maybe one of your parents is an excellent baker, gardener, knitter, painter, and so forth. Whatever their skills or passions are, they can pass down their knowledge to your own child.
Everyone knows kids are like sponges, and they soak up everything they can. So what a great way to keep a family skill, hobby, or tradition alive by having your kids pick it up. It then becomes their special activity that they enjoy with their grandparents.
Be sure to encourage kids to keep up with their newly learned skill or hobby, and provide them with any additional supplies or materials they may need.
Finally, though this is possibly one of the more important aspects, you should make sure that your parents and children have some common interests. Having similar interests, or focusing on some common likes, will automatically help these relationships to form, giving both your parents and children something to hold on to when they start hanging out together. It can be hard without this initial connection otherwise.
These interests can cover anything from a love of animals, sport, movies, travel destinations, anything that they both have in common will work. As your kids grow, these connections will only get stronger, allowing the relationship to flourish as your parents age. Of course, there are always going to be highs and lows with any of these relationships but knowing some of these pointers from the outset will help.
A relationship well worth nurturing
As a parent, you always want to do what’s best for your child and provide them with positive life experiences. Helping kids get to know their grandparents certainly counts as a positive life experience and can be a wonderful gift that you give to both the kids and your parents.