With the responsibilities of active parenting behind them, relaxed grandparents can give their undivided time to their beloved grandchildren. This relationship of mutual adoration becomes immensely beneficial for both parties. Just the presence of a non-judgemental grandparent who doesn’t put pressure on them like concerned aspirational parents, is comforting for the grandchildren. The wide gap in ages in fact makes it easier for the grandchildren to confide in their grandparents rather than parents – the old and the very young become partners and emotional anchors for each other!
A family culture that celebrates strong bonds and values and encourages sharing of activities and obligations, creates a balanced, secure and happy atmosphere for the children. Spend time with the grandchild in a group as well as individually. Show genuine interest in their lives and activities – children can sense authentic emotion. Come across as a loving, supporting elder, though also emphasizing good manners from the beginning.
Grandparents have a golden opportunity to guide and positively impact the children’s growth and personality in all aspects, apart from the parents of course, who often do not have the time for in-depth parenting. Children learn what they see - teach by example and build trust with them. In the current rapidly changing socio-economic scenario and society in a state of flux, traditions and values are often sidelined. Teach them the core Indian values of tolerance, respect, compassion and community service. To have consideration and empathy towards others, along with a strong civic sense. Not to forget an essential sense of humour!
Emphasis on Values
These life-enhancing traits and skills shall help them develop into balanced, self-confident, courageous and ethical human beings – healthy in mind, body and spirit. An asset to the family, society and the global community.
Our vast Indian mythology and scriptures are full of eternal wisdom stories that uplift, inspire and fascinate, which the children can imbibe from the grandparents, simultaneously internalizing the difference between right and wrong and the power of truth and morality. Encourage the children to develop a sense of heritage and identity and pass-on the family traditions and life-stories – kids love hearing about their parents escapades!
A word of caution - evolved parents would gratefully support and welcome the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, but nevertheless, grandparents must be careful not to speak negatively about either of their parents to the grandchildren.
Activities to do Together
There are a plethora of activities that grandparents and grandchildren can engage in together. In fact, they can teach each other new activities and games. Play indoor or outdoor games with enthusiasm. Go on picnics or plan a backyard cook-out, where all the participants can decide on and cook the snacks and food together, which the grandparents should subtly make sure is healthy and nourishing too. Go on long nature walks with the children, apart from enjoying the sights and sounds of nature, inform them through light-hearted conversation, about the absolute imperative of preserving the ecological and environmental balance of our planet – to appreciate all the natural treasures of our Earth-all the flora and fauna, the trees, rivers and mountains. The children are after all, the future trustees and inheritors of our planet and must be made aware.
On the practical side, show the older ones how to run a home on a balanced budget and give them helpful tips. Grandparents can also share their own hobbies and passions, which nobody has the time to teach these days, though they can be so creative and calming. Knitting, embroidery, quilting, tapestry-making and certainly cooking - passing on traditional family recipes, not to forget home remedies for common ailments. Incidentally, these skills could also supplement the adult child’s income later, if required. On the other hand, recognize and encourage the hidden talents of your grandchildren – everyone has some special ability and there are dozens of new-age occupations for every kind of skill and knowledge.
Above all, have fun with the children – banter, joke, exchange anecdotes, sing and dance if possible.
Technology To Stay Connected
Modern technology has made it really easy to stay connected to loved ones who are far away. Though the physical, human touch is missing, grandparents can still express affection and have meaningful interactions through video-chats. You can hold online Zoom sessions with the kids, singing together or reading a story, or demonstrate a craft or cook a dish. Play online games together. Help with their homework. Recite prayers together. You can of course, send gifts to the grand children via online platforms, or even order their favourite comfort food occasionally. Though obviously physical presence bonding would be advisable whenever possible, online tools and platforms are a unique option to connect with loved ones. The children will eagerly teach their grandparents how to use the latest technology gadgets.
In a richly rewarding relationship, the two-way learning and interactions can give grandparents a sense of value and purpose, motivating them to stay active and healthy.
As the children grow, their priorities, needs, dreams and aspirations evolve in an ever-expanding circle of new relationships and experiences – but if the grandparent has close bonding with the grandchild since childhood, then it will sustain and be unshakeable as a positive emotional bond that both can rely on – that you are there for each other.
The amazing warmth and tender love of a grandparent for a grandchild is truly delightful to behold.