Grandparents play an extremely important role in the life of a child. Most grandparents relish in the role of ‘Nana’ or ‘Pop’ – they can play and laugh with the child and hand them back when it’s time to be fed, time to sleep or time to eat.
Many parents want their own parents or in laws to play a more active role in their child’s life. So how can you strengthen the bond between your little one and your parents or in laws?
Long Distance Grandparents
One of the most common problems that parents face is having their own family miles and miles away. This can make it hard for both you and them. They most likely wish they could live just up the street to babysit as much as you do. Make time to Skype or phone long distance at least once a week. A twenty minute Skype session every Monday morning is a great way to incorporate your child’s grandparents into their normal routine even if they are not in the same city.
Another way you can strengthen the bond when there is significant distance in between is to focus on activities that involve them. Suggest that you make a painting to send to Grandma through the mail or make a scrapbook together with stickers and pictures from the time that they came for a visit. This is a great way to keep your children and your parents connected in mind, if not in person.
Strengthening Grandparent Time
If grandparents do live close by but do not offer to watch the child or to even visit, this can be even more frustrating. You can take the upfront approach and ask them to spend a couple of hours with their grandchild. A couple of hours spent in the company of someone other than Mummy is going to do a world of good for your child, not to mention for Mum and Dad!
If they are confused on what to do during this time, then suggest they do things they enjoy, such as knitting, lawn bowling and other activities commonly reserved for the older generation. It may surprise you (and them) to see how adaptable kids can be. Most children are willing to try new things as long as someone is there to show them how.
Most grandparents are your best bet for babysitters and having this outlet is going to save you hundreds of dollars and worried nights away. While this is not always possible, make an effort, either in person or through the internet, to keep in touch. When the time comes that you and your husband need a night out alone, having your child familiar with his grandparents is definitely a plus for everyone.
However, you are the parent and many grandparents can forget this and want to push their own ideals onto your children. This may be a problem if your ideas clash with theirs. It is important that you set boundaries. If they are visiting too much, then let them know. If they are smoking in front of your children, then ask them politely to stop. If they are feeding your children junk food when they visit, then inform them that this is not appropriate. Stand your ground and be assertive; they may have raised you but when it comes to your children, you are the boss.
Do you have helpful grandparents nearby, or are yours further away? Do you wish yours were closer? Or that maybe they weren’t as close?