Grandparents have an important role in a child’s life, and not just the one that entails secretly giving them candy or letting them stay up a bit longer in the evening. Studies have shown that there are many benefits of children having a strong emotional bond with their grandparents. Not only are they more compassionate, kind and generous, but they also have higher self-esteem and perform better in school. Therefore, they have to learn to appreciate their grandparents.
Set an example
My children are like sponges; they absorb everything they hear and see – even my two-year-old son mimics my every move. We, as parents, have a great responsibility towards our children, which, to be honest, scares me sometimes. You have to be careful what you say or do because, sooner or later, you’ll see them do the exact same thing. The same goes for your relationship with your parents – if you want to teach your children they need to appreciate their grandparents, then you need to express your appreciation, too. Of course, you’re allowed to disagree with them, but don’t disrespect them or disregard their opinions only because they’re old, especially around your children. Once they see you treat your parents unjustly and disrespectfully, you cannot expect them to behave differently. Therefore, take your parents’ opinions into consideration, keep in touch with them regularly, and never discuss your disagreements in front of the little ones.
Give your parents power
My parents have a soft spot for their grandchildren, which is perfectly understandable, but it can sometimes backfire. At first, my parents were too lenient with my kids – all my daughter had to do is blink twice and they would be all around her. If it hadn’t been for me to be a bad guy sometimes, they would have probably given her ice-cream for dinner every night. Not only can this undermine your authority as a parent because “gramma and grandpa let her do it”, but it can also send a wrong message to your children who will grow up thinking they can do whatever they want when they are with their grandparents. And when your parents finally say no, they won’t be heard. Therefore, your parents should have a certain level of authority that will help them stay in charge when you’re not around. You don’t want your kids to walk all over their grandparents when they grow up.
Agree on your expectations
Differences in expectations can result in disagreements, which can consequently cause damage to a relationship. Once, my four-year-old daughter was staying with my parents, and what was supposed to be a fun time bonding turned into me going to pick her up because she wouldn’t stop crying. Namely, what happened was that they put her to bed without letting her watch her cartoon, which she usually did at home. And, since she was tired and agitated, she wouldn’t go to bed and started crying. This little “incidents” seems like a trifle, and it probably is, but it taught me that certain expectations need to be aligned. After that, I had a talk with my parents and we agreed upon certain dos and don’ts that should be respected. I also talked to my daughter and told her that I expected her to respect her grandparents and their decisions even if they sometimes differ from our habits at home. I’m happy to say that such an incident has never happened again.
Let them spend time together
If you see your parents once a month, or only for holidays, they will be nothing more than strangers to your children. By arranging for your kids to spend time with their grandparents, you will provide them with an opportunity to bond with them, learn about growing up and growing old, and adopt proper values. Additionally, your children should want to spend time with their grandparents, and not feel as if you were making them. The best way to achieve this is to find a fun activity that they can share. For example, my parents live in one of luxury retirement communities by the sea and my kids love going there. Their grandparents take them to the beach where they often have picnics or fly a kite; so, when I come to pick them up, they don’t want to go home. Once you help them find something fun to do, they’ll be glad to visit their grandparents.
Encouraging your children to bond with their grandparents will enhance their general development. Not only will they love their grandparents, but they’ll also appreciate and respect them.