When we hear the word grandparents we usually get a sense of nostalgia, a warm feeling accompanied by a smile. Memories may come flooding in.
I have thoughts of Abuela (grandma) handing me a pair of sewing needles, my eyes getting wide because my mother just said I couldn’t use them out of fear I might accidentally poke my brother. But my Abuelita said, “Don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to use them safely.”
She made me feel so grown up at that moment, I was entrusted to do something the adult women in the family were doing.. I remember watching her sew flower patterns onto the pillowcases that would be gifted to the family. I was excited for my Abuelita to teach me.
There are many wonderful memories that we share with grandparents.
The grandparent's role is multifaceted, they help in so many ways and their effects can be everlasting and beneficial to both the grandchildren and the grandparents.
Here are important ways that grandparents help within the family.
Grandparents give unconditional love
Grandparents love their children and grandchildren equally. There is a special bond that grows between grandparents and grandchildren and it’s not because of the extra candy grandma might give out. Did you know that an extra long hug will release oxytocin, the happy neurotransmitter also released during breastfeeding? The bond has been shown to help children thrive into their teen years and it deters loneliness for both grandchild and grandparent.
Human connection is essential and grandparents are eager to give it. Grandparent involvement is excellent all around.
Caring for grandchildren
The thought of leaving children with strangers to be taken care of while they work is very stressful for new parents. Having grandma or grandpa help with childcare eases stress, cuts down time on the commute to daycare, and also helps out financially as childcare costs continue to rise. There is no greater peace of mind than knowing a family member, whom you love and trust, is taking care of your child. Grandparents have walked this path before and they remember that parents also need breaks and rest.
Grandparents are an extra set of role models
Children are observing the world around them including observing their grandparent's behavior. Particularly, children between 3 and 5 years old are soaking in the world, there is rapid learning going on in their brain. The constant asking of ‘Why?’ is indicative of how fast they are learning and processing new information.
When grandma makes a dinner dish for a sick friend, your child may ask her why and she will explain how she is concerned and wants to do something nice and helpful. When the grandparents offer to give a ride to church to an elderly couple, they will patiently explain how they are helping their community by showing God's love through service. Children are observing how the grandparents respond to love, anger, frustrations, and surprises. This will shape and mold them as they grow.
Throughout the time spent together, grandparents also share their love and praise of God.
“We are blessed to be able to use our bodies for exercise.”
“Let’s thank God before we eat.”
“Let’s be thankful for all of our 5 senses.”
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)
Skills upon skills
A lifetime of learned skills, ready to be shared is a gift to children. Toddlers and preschoolers are beyond eager to try new things and feel independent doing so. Grandpa may be an expert in the vegetable garden while grandma teaches how to prune rose bushes. Your preschooler in the kitchen watching grandma cook without measuring spoons may start a love of cooking or getting to hold grandpa’s tools while he builds is something that is equally fascinating for young minds.
Children learn new skills while the grandparents keep those skills alive. Children also get to share skills they learned with grandma or grandpa, this is mutually beneficial. The icing on the cake is that they spend quality time together.
Grandparents are historians
Traditional skills are passed down with the history of who taught what and why. Grandparents lived in very different times, they have a different lens of history to share. Stories about family events like weddings, celebrating birthdays, church events, and the special foods they ate at events. Retelling stories of times lived through war, depression, and inventions that changed the world are amazing stories for children. Grandparents offer a vital and enriching link to our cultural past.
What is going on during conversations? Children are processing this information and taking it all in. When young preschool children listen and ask why they are clarifying new vocabulary and thoughts as it is introduced. Children's vocabulary increases as do their listening and speaking skills.
Children that see their grandparents frequently get more playtime and outside time. Grandparents' company offers a welcome respite to busy parents. Children are eager to play and show something new to grandma or grandpa and when they do, children get to play and grandparents get in needed exercise and mobility practice. Staying physically active and mentally active with grandchildren helps extend a person's life and lowers their mortality rate according to studies. It becomes a win-win situation.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, grandparents are loving individuals that contribute to that sentiment. The connections, habits, and beliefs your child establishes in their first five years last a lifetime and that makes the grandparent's involvement extra meaningful.
“Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children” (Proverbs 17:6)
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