Bridging the Age Gap
Why it is important to encourage, affirm, and develop the positive traits and to build a strong relationship with your grandchildren despite obstacles of distance and age.
It’s a grand thing to be a grandparent. All the fun without the fuss and, more importantly, time to focus on developing children into better adults without the distraction of having to provide for them. It’s a truth that cannot be denied, and because it does indeed take an entire village to raise a child, it becomes a grandparent’s duty to help their grandkid achieve their full potential.
As a grandparent, you have the privilege of observing from a point of view of someone who has had the experience of raising children and seeing without bias the pros and cons of a child’s developing personality.
Therefore, it is important to maintain a relationship with them, especially if you live far away. Grandparents serve an important function as the child’s adult best friend. It is rare for children not to connect emotionally with their grandparents if they are accessible, but a grandparent who does not make an effort to reach out will sorely miss out during the developmental years that shape a child into an adult.
Of course, there are strained relationships; perhaps there may be conflict between the in-law or there is estrangement with your own child, but that should not deter you from reaching out. Pride will only get in the way of happiness and is definitely a cause for regret.
As you encourage your grandchild, make sure that you do not overstep bounds. Overly spoiling and gifting will not only lead to an entitled child, it will also be causing your children grief by making their kid into a little monster. You might mean well, but beware because doing so might cause a rift between you and the parents and they refuse to let you see your grandkids for fear of you undermining their authority as rightful parents. Try not to be too affirming as well—two of the most damaging words in the English language is “good job.” Try to give constructive criticisms, but be gentle and make sure you explain that it is only to help develop their skills in the future. Reward kind behavior, and try to lead by example. Children tend to pick up non-verbal cues from role-models, and your actions will speak louder than words. Listen to their stories as well. Their parents might be too busy working to raise them, so be the ear that they need, and in this way, you will also be teaching the value of listening.
But the most important thing a grandparent can do is to accept a grandchild and love them unconditionally because that’s what grandparents are for.