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Grandparents are Important to a Child's Life

by Original content: Joy West | Blog post: Katie Cullum

grandma and grandpa in a kitchen cooking pancakes with two young children at the counter
Connect the generations! Cooking is a great way to connect older and younger family members.

On the first Sunday after Labor Day, we celebrate Grandparents Day. It is a time to affirm the meaningful contribution grandparents make in our lives. I remember shelling peas in my grandparent’s backyard listening to stories that I’m sure I didn’t care about at the time. Riding on the back of the bushhog, sitting on a small foothold, yes it was dangerous and no I was never hurt. Those memories are now precious to me, as my grandparents have long passed.

I learned a lot of family history, values, skills, practical knowledge of gardening and cooking, and a totally unhealthy skill of rolling cigarettes for my grandfather. But that’s a whole other story. The lessons I learned were lifelong ones that improved my life immensely. These interactions were beneficial not just of me but for both of us.

Chelsey Byers of Illinois Extension discusses the various roles Grandparents play in a child’s life:

  • Family historian-even if I didn’t think I cared at the time
  • Mentor-my grandfather spent hours teaching me skills he knew I needed
  • Nurturer-I was always safe, cared for, and loved
  • Role model- my grandmother worked outside of the home in a time when that was not normal
  • Playmate-working the farm can actually be fun, who knew!

If you want a close connection, grandparents and grandchildren must want the relationship by making an effort and viewing it as important. Communication is important to this connection. But in modern times when families may live hundreds of miles away, close and healthy communication may take creativity. Communication will need to take different forms then talking while shelling peas.

Chelsey Byers suggests:

  • In-person
  • Phone calls
  • Emails/letters/cards
  • Text messages
  • Social media
  • Skype/FaceTime or other online connections

Regardless of how you connect with grandparents or grandchildren, spend purposeful time together. Show interest in their interests and activities and try to be there during their special times. Ask for their help. Whether it is learning to use technology or learning how to plant a garden, both groups have a lot to offer each other. Invite them to visit or go visit them on more than just holidays.

Make the effort, spend the time, and never regret the relationship you could have had with each other.

Check out the following links for additional information on Grandparent and Child relationships:

Grandparents have an important role in a child’s life by Chelsey Byers from the University of Illinois: 

Cultivating a Close Relationship with Grandparents by Christina Pay from Utah State University 

Grandparenting in Unique Circumstances by Philip Estepp from North Dakota State University