Thursday, October 17, 2013
31 Days - Loving Your Grandchildren
I know that seems like a ridiculous title. Who doesn't love their grandchildren, right?
I have a sneaking suspicious that more people than you think don't really love their grandkids. Oh, they would say that they do, but in reality they don't. Here are a few (real) reasons why.
1. The grandchildren are not well behaved and the grandparents find them difficult to handle.
2. The grandparents didn't enjoy parenting very much, were so happy when their kids turned 18, and now don't really want to be bothered with their grandchildren.
3. Their grandchild is a result of an unwed pregnancy. While they know that it is not the child's fault, disappointment about it all can cloud their feelings toward the child.
4. Baby boomers tend toward self focus in a way not seen in previous generations. These were the kids that were born post war. Their parents who grew up in the depression and served during WWII wanted their kids to have a better life, and they did. But as evidenced by the many 55 + only housing developments and senior resort living places, I think it shows a self centeredness. In most of these places your grandkids can visit but not even stay the night!
So how do we combat some of these issues? What can we do to really love our grandkids and not spoil them? If we find we secretly have some of these issues, can we really change our hearts toward our grandkids?
I say yes!
The key to changing is to seek the Lord. What does He have to say to you about your situation? He will have something to say.
Then we need to act on truth and not on feelings. Our emotions will follow our actions. Here are some ideas to do this.
1. If we have grandkids that are out of control, establish guidelines of behavior for when they are at your house and stick to it. Consistency is the key here. No must be no, even if they try you a thousand times. Try to say yes as much as possible and that makes your "no' more meaningful to them.
If they are allowed to do things at their home that you don't want them to do at yours be clear with them, "We are not going to do that here." Make your home a fun place for them to come. Remember fun does not mean 'wild and out of control.'
When we got to spend the night at my grandparents house, my grandma let us pick what we wanted to eat for dinner and we got to pick a favorite ice cream. She'd stop at the grocery store on the way home, so we could pick it out. That was such a treat! Oh, and
2. If your grandkids are too much to handle in a group - take them one on one. Make a schedule, let them stay overnight, and then go do something together. My parents are great at this.
I remember before I was married even, they would take my brother's kids. It's fun for the child to get time away to do something special - even if it's only to sleep in grandma's big bed and watch a movie together while eating popcorn. It doesn't have to be bells and whistles, and juggling clowns, just time together.
3. Build relationships through volunteering together.
My dad used to watch my kids on Fridays while my mom, grandma and I went to do our grocery shopping. Once a month he took them to help set up for the volunteer fire company's fund raising breakfast, and then to McDonald's. They got the opportunity to serve the community and spend time with grandpa. They did a fabulous job and it has helped them to be focused on helping to serve others.
4. Be purposeful in building relationships. Get to know them from infancy on if you can. This can be difficult if your grandkids and you don't life near each other, but it can be done.
My dear friend Jane lives in Florida and her grandkids are in NH and IL. She Skype's with them every week, reading them books and talking to them. When they get to be together in person it is seamless, because she has invested the time weekly all through the year.
Another dear friend Cheryl, is an inspiration to me as a grandparent. She is still raising her own child while grandparenting her older children's children. She does really fun and creative things with them. You can find her posts about it on her blog if you click on her name.
My granddaughter and her Mommy live with us. We care for her daily while her Mommy works. She sees her Daddy (our son) several times a week, as he either comes here or she and Mommy go to him. It has taken me awhile to find my groove as a grandma.
I love her deeply, but when you are providing the daily care, and yet trying to keep the balance of not being her parent - it can have challenges. But we've found our way, and I am so happy to have her here every day. We get to love on her, teach her, play with her. She has her aunties and her beloved uncle to play with daily. So many people who love her speaking love and truth into her life.
5. Do not spoil your grandkids. This will not please your own kids, their parents. Don't allow them to get away with things at your house that they can't do at home. It's okay to have some different rules such as whether you'll allow the kids to eat in the living room or only at the table in the kitchen. But never big things like what movies they are allowed to watch, music they can listen to, online activity.
It takes work to be unselfish, but the first step is a choice. I am going to give of myself for a relationship with my grandkids. Small steps, one by one, yields fruit.
What are things that you do with your grandchildren?