There’s been much in the news lately about grandparents raising their grandkids due to factors such as military deployments and parental death or incarceration due to the opioid epidemic. More grandparents are also providing childcare for working parents, giving them a growing influence in the lives of their grandchildren.
The retirement of the Baby Boomer generation means there are growing numbers of grandparents, including active younger retirees, who want to be part of their grandkids’ lives. Whether you care for grandkids all the time, part-time or see them occasionally, I want to encourage you. You can have a tremendous positive impact on their young lives, simply by spending time with them, talking with them and sharing their experiences growing up.
The uplifting influence you as a grandparent can have is even more important considering all the bad influences many young people have that are vying for their attention. Schools, communities, government and the media are all failing our children in huge ways.
Let’s look at some of them and how you as a loving, involved grandparent can help.
There are many ways schools are failing children, from failing to discipline bad behavior to not teaching critical thinking skills. Being able to think creatively and solve problems are some of the major skills today’s kids will need to succeed in the rapidly changing economy.
Unfortunately, many schools are so focused on getting kids to pass tests that they overlook the importance of instilling them with the creative joy that is the foundation for lifelong learning.
We’ve recently discussed some ways grandparents can spur creativity in their grandkids. Here are some other ways you can “fill the gaps” when it comes to their education, health and well-being:
Help with homework.
Help your grandkids with their homework. (Yes, some of it may leave you scratching your heads, just like it does with their parents, but kids will appreciate that you care enough to help.)
Support their activities.
Attend their sports, dance, and other extracurricular events. Think back to when you were a kid and how proud you were when adults in your life took the time to show up for you. That part hasn’t changed.
Volunteer as a tutor at a school or Boys & Girls Club near you. This is a great option if your own grandkids live far away and you see them only occasionally. Not only will you be helping kids in your own community, but you will have more to share with your grandkids when you get together.
Model healthy active lifestyles.
Take them hiking, fishing, skating, walking the dog at the park, etc. If you are retired, perhaps you are enjoying finally having more time for your own health and recreation. Take your grandkids along whenever you can.
Teach them the value of good nutrition.
Prepare and cook healthy meals together. This is not just for grandmothers and granddaughters. Grandpas, try building a homemade pizza and healthy salad the next time you and your grandkids visit.
As a grandparent, you have an opportunity to share a special, wonderful relationship with your grandkids based on trust, mutual affection and playfulness. What are some of the joyous learning and growing experiences you are sharing with your grandkids? How is your time together enriching your lives, and theirs?
Write and let me know. I look forward to sharing your stories.