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How to Build Strong Relationships Between Kids and Grandparents

 Mighty Mommy shares 5 tips to help strengthen the relationships between kids and their grandparents.

By
Cheryl Butler,
Episode #247

This year National Grandparents Day was celebrated across the U.S on Sunday, September 8th.  The role of grandparents has changed dramatically over the past two decades.  According to grandparents.com grandparents represent one-third of the American population with 1.7 million new grandparents added to the ranks every year..

In a perfect world, the grandparents in our lives would be nurturing, supportive, helpful, and respect their role so as not to override parental authority.  Grandparents often have the opportunity to spend more relaxed time with grandchildren and they can enjoy children for who they are at the moment—something that is difficult for mom or dad to pull off.  Today, Mighty Mommy is going to share 5 tips to help strengthen the relationships between kids and their grandparents:

Tip #1: Define the Role You Want Grandparents to Play in Your Child’s Life

Establishing a bond with grandparents can benefit kids in many ways. Grandparents can be great role models and influences, and they can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history. Grandparents can provide maturity, knowledge, stability, and unconditional love to the lives of their grandkids. On the other hand, grandchildren can bring energy, optimism, laughter, activity, youthfulness, and purpose to the lives of grandparents.  In theory, this should be a definite win/win relationship for both parties, but it doesn’t always go that route if clear expectations are not set between parents and grandparents.

See also: Grandparents Want to Help

 

If you're a parent and want to foster a loving relationship between your kids and their grandparents, let them know your expectations upfront.  You are bound to do things differently than your parents did when they raised you, so begin to introduce your parenting style to all the grandparents in your lives as early as possible.  Sometimes this is difficult to do, I mean how do you tell your own mother, or mother-in-law, that you would like things done differently? The answer is honestly and respectfully. "Mom, we're concerned about the amount of sugar in those fruit chews, so we’d prefer he eat apple wedges or granola fruit bars instead. Thanks for listening." "Dad, we don't think that movie is appropriate for the kid at this age. Can you play one of their favorite board games with them rather than watching the TV? We really appreciate it.”  

Tip #2: Communicate Often 

Depending on the age of your child’s grandparents, they may not be so tech savvy. They likely won't text, tweet, email, or post Facebook updates as often as you and your kids, so find ways to keep in touch as often as possible in a way that is comfortable for the grandparents.

If your child is old enough, help him make a phone call to Grandma after dinner once or twice a week, especially if they live far away.  People still enjoy getting something fun in their mailbox, so encourage your child to draw Grandpa a picture and send it off in the mail.  For computer-savvy grandparents, there are ample opportunities for sharing photographs, highlights from a sporting event, or just sending a thoughtful text or email that says “I love you Grandma, can’t wait to see you again.”    

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About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!

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