6 Ways to Tighten the Grandparent Bond
Take a moment to imagine how interesting it would have been to live during the time prior to Noah’s flood. This was a period when people easily lived between 500 and 700 years! When I think of Adam and Eve, it astounds me to realize how they saw their children’s, children’s, children’s, children – and plenty beyond that! What firsthand wisdom they must have been able to share with their descendants about what it had been like to walk with God on cool evenings in the garden. When God walked with them in Eden, they listened as He imparted incredible knowledge about everything imaginable. Just think of the enrichment they first-hand passed “down” to their pool of grandchildren everywhere. They were blessed to share; their grandchildren were blessed to receive.
When younger generations interface with those senior to them, they learn life purpose, understand more about who they happen to be, and are better equipped to project into the future as visionaries. When the senior population can embrace those younger, they continue to touch the future they helped procreate. They can refresh hope and excitement that may have waned over their many years. What a wonder it is to behold your children’s children; it is a precious gift that lilts the heart like no other experience. I can thoroughly attest to this fact now as I experience the new joy of loving on my own precious grandson.
Today’s western culture has put us on a collision course with relational annihilation when it concerns maintaining connectivity between grandparents and their grandchildren (grand nieces and nephews included). A widening of the relational gulf occurs, killing the very spirit intended to make life worth living. Understandably, it is critical that we parents (somewhat caught in the middle) prioritize focus on tightening relational bonds between the grands. Understandably, some families experience brokenness between parent and adult child that keeps these bonds from developing. If the parent-adult child relationship is already strained, grandchildren cannot be expected to magically heal those stale wounds.
It can occur that parents are the primary cause of relational difficulty, harboring hurts from their own childhood without attempt to confront and extinguish past hurts. Still, the parent must consider ways to encourage relating between the grands, at least until the children are mature enough to do it on their own. If rules of engagement must be enacted to ensure the children’s safety, they should be fair, granting room for expanded access as specific concerns hopefully dissipate. Nevertheless, parents must be careful not to let their own negative emotions hamper what could prove to be a life-giving relationship between the grands. The bottom line with parents is regularly taking initiative to enable grandparents reasonable access to their grandchildren.
Grandparents are sometimes at the epicenter of relational conflict, making it difficult for the parents to grant free access to their children. In some cases, grandparents harbor grudges, agitations or anger against the parent, creating a detectable air of indifference towards their own grandchildren. Unfortunately, when a grandparent is guilty of egregious past behaviors, it might necessitate the creation of a gulf of sorts to limit access to the children – until a level of greater safety is reached. Grandparents would also be wise to recall that children spell love:
“T” - “I” - “M” - “E”
Taking time and initiative for regular physical visits, letters, phone calls and skype or video sessions (especially if at a distance) does wonders to deepen bonds. The bottom line with grandparents is regularly taking the initiative to make themselves reasonably assessible to their grandchildren.
Here are 6 ways parents can help deepen bonds between grandparents and their grandchildren:
Groom the new generation of children to know, to appreciate and to be involved with their older family members – aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews. This bonds them with something greater than themselves … namely, family.
Teach the youth in your family to show reverence (Respect) to those older than themselves, to develop a longing in older family members to spend time with them. The benefit is time afforded for wisdom sharing with their grands.
Teach the young to attend to the needs of those who are senior to themselves, thus showing them how to give back to the people who paved the way for them to exist in the first place.
The more time younger and older family members spend with each other, the easier it becomes for them to find new and purposeful ways to interact and delight in one another.
Establish functional parameters for your children, helping them to understand what acceptable behavior is when with their grandparents (lowered noise level; no running indoors; no handling of medications, etc.). They also need to understand consequences for poor behavior – the discipline (reasonable and measurable correction). Grandparents must be helped to understand what the parents feel is acceptable correction, should it be necessary. It is never wise for a grandparent to assume their form of parenting and discipline has been wholly adopted by their adult children.
Realizing that everyone is living the “dash” (the timeframe between birth and death), we must teach our children to pursue and savor relationship with their senior family members, before the advent of life’s inevitable setting of the sun.