If you've ever turned to your parents or your
partner's parents for help and support with child-rearing, you
know how wonderful grandparents can be. Although physical
distance and parenting differences can come between grandparents,
their children, and their grandchildren, encouraging a close
relationship can benefit everyone involved.
The Benefits of Bonding With Grandparents
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 provide their grandkids with love, have
their best interests at heart, and can make them feel
Grandparents also encourage a child's healthy development.
Overnight trips to Grandma's house, for example, may be
less traumatic than sleepovers with peers, and can help kids
develop independence. Another benefit - grandparents may have lots
of time to spend playing and reading to kids. Such dedicated
attention only improves a child's developmental and learning
Tips for Staying in Touch
In today's world, though, families may be scattered across
the country, and jam-packed school and work schedules may interfere
with regular time with grandparents. Despite physical distance or
busy schedules, you can encourage your child to develop a closer
bond with his or her grandparents by trying these tips:
If your child's grandparents live nearby, make an effort to
carve time out of your busy schedule for regular visits.
Encourage grandparents to drop by your home, too. Plan regular
trips to see out-of-town grandmas and grandpas. Even if visits
are infrequent, anticipating and planning the next trip can help
your child regard that time as special.
Stay in touch with technology.
Use the telephone and email to talk, write, and send pictures and
sound files of your growing child to grandparents. If they
don't own a computer, send videos of your child in action,
like taking a bath or playing with a pet. Or have a grandparent
record a reading of a favorite story and play it for your child
before at bedtime.
Post snapshots of grandparents in a prominent spot in your home,
and point them out to your child often. Or place family pictures
in a special photo album and page through it frequently while
naming the family members.
Sound mail call.
Does your child love receiving mail? Send grandparents a box of
stationery and postcards and some stamps and ask them to send
your child regular letters. Another way to encourage
communication is to have your child write letters every week on
the same day - both kids and grandparents will anticipate the
Pass it on.
Many grandparents have hobbies or special skills - such as
knitting, woodworking, or cooking - that they'd love to pass
on to their grandchildren. Provide kids with the time and tools
needed to learn these skills from their grandparents.
Chart a family tree.
Both younger and older kids enjoy learning about their ancestors
and relatives. Encourage grandparents to share stories of their
families. You can even provide paper and drawing supplies so they
can chart the family tree.
Safety Away From Home
Whether your child's grandparents live nearby or you're
planning a faraway visit, don't forget to make safety a
priority. Grandparents may not be accustomed to having young kids
in the house, and the presence of household dangers could mar
visits with trips to the emergency room.
Use a household safety checklist and
collaborate with the grandparents
to childproof the home, ensuring that dangerous items and
substances - such as cleaning products, medications, razors, and
knives - are out of reach or locked in a cabinet. Consider walking
through the home with the grandparents to address any potential
safety hazards. They may not realize that small or breakable items
pose a choking or safety risk.
Taking these precautions ahead of time can free kids and
grandparents to make the most of their special time together.
Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: May 2006
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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