Inside: Grandparents play an important role in a child’s life. Most children feel their grandparents positively shaped their lives by teaching meaningful values. Grandparents also come with a built-in set of skills having “been there done that.” Here are ways to become a super grandparent.
Being a grandparent is the best job in the world. It requires some of the skills you learned as a parent, but it’s more like “parenting without borders,” because you aren’t the disciplinarian or the over-worked parent. You are the person that spoils those precious, perfect kiddies to your heart’s content. You are the super grandparent!
Joanna and Ken of California have all the qualities of super grandparents. Aside from being madly in love with all ten of their grandchildren, they understand intimately what this term means.
As grandparents they are:
- Role models
- And mentors to their grandchildren.
They teach values and good behaviors by:
- Giving advice
- And loving unconditionally.
In short, they give oodles of time to influence the little people they love best.
Over the last 28 years, Ken and Joanna have worked hard to build strong relationships with each grandchild—no matter where they lived, no matter the cost, and no matter the inconvenience.
They love their role and it shows.
The American Grandparents Association (AGA) found that 72% of grandparents believe “being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their lives.” And even though being a grandparent requires effort, creativity, and lots of love–grandkids are worth it.
Here are Joanna and Ken’s top four suggestions of activities that will turn you from a grandparent to a super grandparent.
Super Fun Grandparent Activities
#1: Summer Visits
Every summer put aside some time and invite each of your grandchildren for a visit. Plan fun and memorable activities to do together.
Ken and Joanna love having their grandchildren visit each summer. Daily activities include trips to Disneyland, children’s museums, swimming, movies, parks, the beach, and shopping.
Nights are spent talking about everything under the sun; star gazing, night-time walks, watching movies, playing board games, and reading aloud together (their favorite series is Harry Potter).
Grandma “Jo” also includes them in meal planning and grocery shopping. And she allows them to pick out all the goop they want to eat (after all, it’s just a week!).
They also spend time together cooking and baking their favorite recipes: French toast, Rocky Road bars, and making pancakes from scratch (the grandkids measure all the ingredients).
This tradition of personal visits continues today even though some of their grandkids are married, in college, and leading busy lives.
If you try “Summer Visits,” there is a delightful book to read to your younger grandkids: I’m Going to Grandma’s by Mary Ann Hoberman. Sometimes little kids get scared at night being away from mom and dad. Reading this book to your anxious grandchild will help reassure her/him it’s fun to stay overnight at grandma and grandpas.
#2: Grandma Notes
Write notes of love and concern to your grandkids. Whether you realize it or not, they will treasure those notes. And it is an important way a grandparent can give advice to those they love.
When visiting her grandkids, Joanna writes a handwritten note to each grandchild expressing her love and devotion. She quietly slips them underneath each child’s pillow. As teens, her letters are filled with carefully planted advice as she cautions them to make good choices and remember who they are.
Her grandchildren have repeatedly told her that they love and cherish these notes and look forward to them with every visit. The advice she offers speaks volumes and says to them, “Grandma really cares.”
Dr. Karl Pillemer of Cornell University wrote, “Research shows that as many as 9 out of 10 adult grandchildren feel their grandparents influenced their values and behaviors.”
Think how a simple, loving note that is read repeatedly can influence the values and behaviors of your grandchildren.
Powerful stuff and takes such a small amount of time!
#3: Visits from Grandparents
Studies show that grandparents have spending power. They control 75% of the wealth in the United States and most want to use that wealth on their grandkids for clothing, education, books, childcare, and visits.
Take time to visit your grandkids–no matter where they live.
For Joanna and Ken, visiting their grandchildren is a top priority. Every birthday, every school advancement, and every religious ceremony—no matter how far they have to travel—they are there.
Think back on special moments growing up when you wanted to be supported not only by your parents but also your grandparents. Then think about those times when your grandparents made the sacrifice to be there for you and how much it meant to you.
This is what family is all about…being there for one another no matter the sacrifice.
#4: Grandparents and Social Media
Today, 75% of grandparents are engaged with their grandkids on social media. If you are a grandparent, be part of that 75% and engage with your grandkids on Facebook, Instagram or through texts.
“Social media is a great way to keep in touch with older grandchildren,” says Joanna. She sends her teenage and adult grandkids short texts, “Thinking about you,” or “Have a great weekend,” or “Miss you lots.” Her goal is simple: she wants them to know she is thinking about them and cares about them.
If these ideas seem too overwhelming, then start with something easier like Skype, texting, or calling your grandkids weekly. The goal is about relationship building and doing whatever it takes to achieve that.
Great Parents Become Great Grandparents
I’ve noticed that hands-on, successful parents evolve into hands-on, successful grandparents. Because they have “been there done that,” grandparents come to the role with a built-in set of skills. They take their past experiences (all the good, the bad and the ugly), and bring their best advice, help, and expertise when interfacing with their grandchildren.
The AGA found that 63% of grandparents say they do a better job caring for their grandchildren than they did with their own children.
The reason is obvious. As a parent, you are thrown into the arena with no skills and a minute-by-minute learning curve. Grandparents, by default, come equipped with valuable experience that translates into applicable knowledge and success.
The best part is: everyone can be a super grandparent. Yes, you can, too. It takes sacrifice and effort—but aren’t your grandkids worth it? Choose one thing to do with your grandchildren and then do it. Start today. Don’t delay. Time passes quickly.
At the end of your life, when you look back on your accomplishments what do you want to be remembered for? I doubt it will be that you made a million dollars. Most likely it will all be about the family relationships you have nurtured and cultivated.
And one of those family relationships is being a super grandparent!