Research shows children need four to six involved, caring adults to fully develop emotionally and socially. Grandparents can play a vital role in today’s families.
This Sunday, September 9th is National Grandparents Day, the 35th celebration of grandparents since President Jimmy Carter first declared it a National Holiday in 1978.
Relationships between generations benefit everyone. Children get a better sense of who they are and where they’ve come from, have higher self-esteem, even better grades in school. Parents are often less stressed when there’s an active, supportive grandparent in their children’s life. Older people live longer, healthier lives, with less memory loss and depression, and are much happier when they’re actively involved with the young.
“These relationships give you things you can’t get anywhere else," says Legacy Project Chair and intergenerational educator Susan V. Bosak. “They make us feel connected – not only to each other, but to something bigger, to the flow of life, to the past and to the future."
Bosak offers these ideas to bring generations closer:
Sharing bits of your life story over time can help grandchildren get to know you. If you don’t know where or how to start, the Legacy Project website has a free downloadable Fill-in-the-Blanks Life Story and a Generations Scrapbook.
Prompt informal family storytelling with a game of Did You Ever…? Children and adults can share stories and compare memories from different times. For example, did you ever go on a boat, sleep in a cabin or tent, act in a play, stay in a fancy hotel?
Grandparents should get involved in their grandchildren’s education, and schools should put together events to make them feel welcome.
Grandparents and grandchildren should let each other know what they think is special about the other. Have your children make a card for their grandparents for this Sunday. Grandparents.com has a card you can print and your child can color.
“Remember that children carry the legacy not only of what you give them, but also the void that’s left by when you don’t," says Bosak. “Building the grandparent connection helps you and them."
How to get your kis to learn more about their grandparents? How about starting to have them “interview" their grandparents with some questions, such as these?
- Who was your best friend when you were a kid and what did you like to do together?
- What was your favorite food growing up?
- Tell me about the day we first met each other.
- Did you have a favorite toy when you were my age?
- Tell me about the house and neighborhood where you grew up.
- What was your grandma like?
- What was your favorite age to be?
- What’s the oldest memory you have?
- What are some silly things my mom or dad did when they were my age?
- What’s the best thing about being a grandparent?