“Being Grand Grandparents,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 72
With longer life expectancies, many adults today spend more years being grandparents than ever before. Grandchildren often enjoy a special relationship with their grandparents and look to them for stability, especially in a changing world. Whether grandparents live close or far away, there are many ways they can build a caring and loving relationship with grandchildren.
Be an anchor in a world of shifting values.
Nurture a sense of trust, responsibility, and dependability.
Provide emotional support.
Give grandchildren an appreciation of the past and a sense of history.
Be a powerful ally in helping children establish a value system.
Maintain a close relationship even when older children begin seeking independence.
Provide stability and love during difficult times.
Grandparents who live nearby can also:
Give grandchildren the gift of time, since they are often less involved in household and career pressures.
Help grandchildren succeed in school by asking questions or helping with homework.
Encourage reading by keeping good books, magazines, and reference materials on hand when grandchildren visit.
Teach grandchildren sports, skills, or hobbies.
Praise them often and sincerely without comparing them to others.
Impart a love of music and drama, and help grandchildren savor life through the arts.
Grandparents who live far away can:
Maintain correspondence through letters, postcards, holiday greeting cards, or e-mail.
Take pictures of important events and send them to the grandchildren.
Create a newsletter especially for grandchildren.
Encourage reading by sending books or stories. For younger children, record an audiocassette with you reading the story.
Share a recipe for something they will enjoy eating or preparing.
Write a story about ancestors they have never met and send it to them.
Plant a tree or a special plant in the garden to honor a grandchild, then take pictures of it as it grows.
Grandparents have many strengths and experiences they can call upon as they nurture grandchildren. Although not all grandparents can be closely involved with every grandchild, their love and concern adds an important dimension to the lives of extended family members. In today’s world, grandparents provide an anchor not only to families but to society as a whole.—Bernice McCowin, Logan, Utah