Enjoying Your Grandchildren

By Julian Mokhtar

The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is a connection that enriches the lives of both generations. For grandparents, it’s the opportunity to share wisdom, provide love, and create lasting memories with their progeny. For grandchildren, it’s a way to learn about their family roots and traditions as well as having a window into living history. To establish strong and meaningful relationships with our grandchildren, we need to understand our role in building the connection. First thing, we need to be present and available. Spend time talking with your grandkids and take a genuine interest in their lives. Your presence, both physically and emotionally, demonstrates your love and commitment. Grandparents can play an important role in passing down family stories and traditions. Share stories from your own childhood, recount family history as well as historical events you’ve either experienced personally or which happened during your lifetime, and celebrate family traditions together. This not only teaches the younger generation about their roots but also creates a sense of belonging and connection to their family heritage and the world at large. Listening is key to understanding your grandchildren's thoughts, feelings, and interests. Rather than asking questions which require a definite answer, ask open-ended questions which take a little thought to reply in order to begin meaningful conversations. Letting them speak without interrupting will give you a better understanding of their inner being and emotions. By being an empathetic and attentive listener, you create a space where your grandchildren feel heard and valued. Be intentional in your support and encouragement for their hobbies and passions, whether it's sports, music, art, academics, or other pursuits. Attend their games, recitals, exhibitions, and take a genuine interest in what they love. They may have the same interests that you have, or you might even find yourself taking up something new. Sharing your knowledge and life skills can be an incredibly rewarding way to bond with your grandchildren. Consider teaching them practical skills such as gardening, cooking, woodworking, or any other skills you have. Besides passing on your expertise and knowledge, it will also strengthen your relationship. Of course, it's very important to respect the boundaries set by their parents. Cooperate with their parents and follow their rules and guidelines. After all, these are their children, not yours. While it’s true that it’s “traditional” for grandparents to spoil their grandchildren, it’s also true that there are grandparents who think they know better than their own children, the grandchildren’s parents. In both cases they can encroach on or override the parent’s authority. We’ve all heard about or seen over-indulgent, overbearing, “interfering” grandparents - so it’s crucial to be able to recognise and stop such behaviour in yourself. It should be said that to have a good relationship with your grandchildren, you must also have a good relationship with their parents. If you have problems or issues with them, that tension can spill over into the relationship with your grandchildren. On the other hand, if there are problems between parents and grandchildren, you could help to mediate between them. Establish unique traditions or activities that are exclusive to your grandparent-grandchild relationship. This could be anything from a weekly game night to an annual camping trip. These traditions become anticipated and treasured moments in your grandchild's life. Birthdays, graduations, holidays, and other significant events also strengthen bonds and create cherished memories. With modern technology, staying in touch is much easier through video calls, emails, and text messages. Building strong relationships with grandchildren takes time. Be patient and flexible, allowing them to come to you at their own pace, and adapt to their changing needs and interests as they grow. Being a grandparent is a fulfilling role that offers the opportunity to positively impact the lives of your grandchildren. Cherish the moments you spend with them, because these relationships are among life's greatest treasures.