Intentional Grandparenting


I've always tried to be an intentional parent, building relationships with my kids, and yet giving them the freedom to be who God created them to be.

As a grandmother, I've had to work at separating my ongoing parenting of my younger kids, while being grandma to my older kids' children.





I know many of you are very involved grandparents, taking time with your grandkids, doing fun activities.  I've seen friends whose adult children had expectations that their parents would be at every event their grands were doing, and thus not really having the freedom to do anything but that multiple times a week baseball game.  How do you be intentional, to build into your grandchildren's lives, and yet have your own life?

Right now, my grands are all young, the oldest is seven, the youngest are 16 months old, and we don't have lots of grandkid activities going on.  When Kamryn and Klaire come over, Kamryn is interested in either playing with Kyle or if he is not here, she wants to watch a movie.  

So far my grandparenting of her has been more babysitting, and teaching her school.  I don't see Isla except when we FaceTime, because they are in South Carolina.  So I'm trying to develop ideas to build relationship with her while living at a distance.

I wanted to start a conversation here, in the comments, because I'd like to hear your thoughts on this subject.  I know that we all have different circumstances, and depending on where our kids live we may not see our grands that often.  

I'm hoping to learn from you and plan to do an ongoing series on this in the weeks to come.

All right, let me hear your thoughts on this!

Comments

  1. My grandchildren are now starting at 21,19,18,15and 15,and 13. All 6 are so active in school events are baseball.
    My 21 and 19 are in college. When they were born along with my 18 year old grandson I kept them while my daughters worked. Every day my friend and I, she also kept her granddaughter would plan a trip out to do something fun with them or go to each others house.I still try to do things with them on occasion when they can, as they grow up I don't get to see them as often but we do call and text each other.
    Your grands are precious!

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    1. I'm learning about other social media apps that work for keeping in touch, also!

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  2. I am making my way with this, too, but I'll tell you what my husband and I are doing at this point. We have one 2-year old grandchild and since he was born we knew that we wanted to have regular time with him. We all live in the same area, but their house is about 45 minutes from ours so visits are usually planned before they or we make the drive. When he was very young I kept him a few times a week as needed because our daughter-in-law was working in real estate and her schedule was sporadic. Since then her schedule has changed so we worked out an arrangement where we keep him all day every Wednesday. We pick our grandson up from his dad's office where he brings him because that's closer for us, we keep our grandson all day, then return him to his dad when he is off work for the day. We are constantly adjusting to what our grandson likes to do for the day! Also, I turned a section of our basement into a playroom for him and that's where we keep all his indoor toys and playthings. Now that he's older, we go outside and go places with him more often. Our library system has wonderful activities for toddlers, there is a petting zoo nearby, we have a nice park in our neighborhood, etc. Sometimes we take him to visit his great grandparents (my husband's parents) and there are times we need to make a Costco or grocery run and he's entertained by that. As he gets older, I am sure we will do more things that are fun for him. I keep his favorite snacks and food on hand because we have discovered that going out to eat is not his best thing at this age! His parents ask us to keep him now and then for them to have a date night, etc. and we are happy to do that. For another example, my sister has 12 grandchildren (ages 2 to 13) and she has a family gathering with everyone at least once a month. They all swim, play games, have dinner and spend most of the day together. She also has taken each grandchild on a little trip when they turn 12 years old. Where they go and what they do depends on the child's interests. Hope this helps to give you some ideas and inspiration.

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    1. I love having time with our granddaughters! Your sister's involvement with her family sounds like fun and I like the idea of a trip with them one on one!

      Thank you for sharing!

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  3. I have grandchildren in Canada, Australia and England! I have found that even if you are not physically with them, you can be involved in many little ways. Email, letters (which I prefer), telephone chats, remembering birthday and significant dates, and above all, praying for them.

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    1. I really like the idea of mail, especially as they get old enough to read. Don't we all love personal mail?!

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  4. We have the olders (here) and the youngers (TN) but have really been able to be involved in all of their lives. Our older son never had custody of his boys (now 19 and 17) but we made it a point to keep our relationship with their mother a very good one and I actually kept both of them for years while she worked, even after their relationship ended. Aaron was able to be there for them as best he could with all of his issues and when they got older and he got better, he had them every other weekend. We have always been there for them...taken them on many trips and vacations with us through the years as well. We have also been blessed enough to visit back and forth with TN bunch every quarter or so, taking in wrestling matches and other events. Of course after we get there, the opportunities will be endless. Our ones here will be on their own but they have always loved getting together with the younger ones. My prayer is that by showing the love of Jesus, even in not-so-good circumstances, will always be what they remember about their grandparents..our legacy to them all.

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    1. Debby, you are so right about the love of Jesus! It can be such a cornerstone for them in their lives!

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  5. Our grandchildren live close by and their school is just 5 minutes from our house so we see them often. I pick my grandson up from early KG dismissal two afternoons and bring him to our house for a couple of hours, and I volunteer in our granddaughter's class one morning a week (mainly reading with the kids--they love to read out loud to me!) Other than that it's intentional---offering to baby-sit, asking for play dates with the kids, especially the preschooler. We have a big toy closet they love, but as they grow older they are loving to play games. This afternoon I'm asking our 6 year old to help me transplant some wandering daffodils. He'll love getting in the dirt.

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    1. I like the idea of having them one on one and doing a project together. I think Kamryn would especially love this!

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  6. I’m much more involved with my grand quadruplets but I also have 3 older grands from my son and a granddaughter from Summer. Rayne lives in Puerto Rico now so I’m new to long distance grand parenting. I was more involved with my son’s children when they were younger. Starting school is a game changer, I think. In the summer I did MiMi Camps for my three oldest and surprisingly enough, they have requested it again this summer. For two years we did a full day in August at a wonderful family owned lake/park arriving when they opened and staying until closing time. So much nicer than a modern water park. It felt like we were back in the 1950’s. But we missed even that last summer.
    I think we all figure it out as we go along as relationships are not all created equal.
    I imagine it’s a real challenge to grand parent while you are still parenting!

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    1. I have always loved to read of your MiMi camps! I think that's fun, and special. It is harder as the kids get older and have their own stuff going on! And thank you for the reminder that even each relationship with each grand might be different, not one better than the other just different.

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  7. Okay, I just taught my grandson the 99 Bottles of Beer on the wall song so I may not get to see him again for some time. It happened innocently enough after a discussion of bus drivers and kids on school buses. You can see how it could happen, right? My daughter-in-law may be in for a rough afternoon.

    On the other hand, we have also had wonderful discussions today about loftier things. I just try to be available when needed. I try to attend home games. Other than that, I may need an intention myself. ☺️

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    1. This made me laugh! I'm sure you won't be in too much trouble! Ha!

      I think being available is important. Building relationships with them is the key.

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  8. I am just starting my grandma journey. My Gabriel turned one just the other day! My sister has three grands(almost 20, 12, and 11), two boys and a girl. She lives in Florida and her grandkids live in Minnesota. She started a book club with them and sent them each a "new" book each month(books can be mailed via USPS Media Mail inexpensively). At first it was the same book for the boys and then as their personalities developed more she would select ones she knew they would each enjoy on their own. She changes it up now since they are older. She also does a sock club with her daughters and granddaughter right now, occasionally sending me a pair :) A fun idea that can be adapted for most anything. ~Jeni

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    1. Jeni, Thank you for your comment! I like this book club idea! I just bought a book for Isla and I should send it to her now, rather than waiting to send it for Easter. The sock club idea is wonderful! Thank you for sharing these ideas and enjoy that sweet Gabriel!

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  9. I approach grandparenthood so much differently than I did parenthood. I believe that the parents are the ones who have the responsibility of raising their own children. I see the role of "grandparent" as a supporting role . . . encouraging the parents in their job, helping out when needed, but being very careful not to overstep my bounds. It is their turn, so to speak.

    That said, I love to have good relationships with my grandchildren! We have the whole family over often. We give them candy as a parting gift. (We call it "Grandy"!) I like to fix their favorite foods. We make a big deal over their birthdays. We enjoy having them over individually on occasion. (With 10 grands, that can be challenging!) We host sleepovers now and then. We try to engage them in conversations.

    I must add that one set of grands lived far away for many years. It was a challenge to keep the relationships strong when we saw them so seldom. Long distance is hard, but we did our best with phone calls, Skype, and "happy packages." When we sent birthday packages, we always included something for the other children too. Sometimes we'd send a package with no specific reason. We'd decorate the outside with little drawings or stickers . . . anything to make it special. (But I am SO happy that they live nearby now. We feel very grateful!)

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    1. You've been the best example to me of still parenting and making time for your grandkids! You are very intentional, like Bongo's Birthday Party! What fun! I'm glad all your grands are nearby now too!

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  10. I have two grandchildren now, one is 4 and one is 3 months. And I have a 6 year old still at home. I have found it's hard to be a mom to my son and be grandma to the grandchildren. Drew (my son) and Braxton (grandson) love to play together and have a real bond and I love that they love each other so much. I just sometimes find it difficult to play both roles with them. The last time we were together Drew was feeling left out and needed some cuddle time with me as his grandpa and grandma and his dad were enjoying the grands and not giving him the attention he is used to. We see his grandparents all the time and we don't see Braxton and Bayah (granddaughter) very often so of course everyone was making a "fuss" over them, as it should be. I know once they all get older it will be so much easier because Drew will understand more but at this point I sometimes feel I'm not able to be the grandma I would like to be because I don't want to hurt Drew in the process. I'm hoping to be able to have the grandchildren visit and spend time here at our house without extended family once Bayah gets a little older. Then I Drew can help me plan for their stay and he won't feel left out. I can spoil them all together!

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  11. Interesting reading these comments. We have grandchildren that live out of the state, so we have to fly to visit with them, and then it's a 24/7 time with them. We do use SKYPE on most other occasions. Like when it isn't our turn for Christmas, they'll skype with us as the boys open up their presents from us. One time when the boys were just learning to walk and talk, our son just left the camera on them for the longest time, so we could just watch them play...special for us! There are a couple of good books out there that address this issue..."Long Distance Grandparenting" - we try to send them something at least once a month in the mail (pictures from the last time they were with us, a seasonal project to do, candy/snacks, school supplies, etc.). Since I don't work outside the home I am able to go and visit with them more than my husband, on my own...grandparent day at their school. We've also spent a week with just the boys while the parents went on a vacation for their Anniversary, and we'll get to do that again, while their parents attend a conference in April! Thanks for letting us share our ideas, we've got this covered!

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  12. I remember my years as a grandchild, I was blessed to have wonderful grandparents that I still think of lovingly 20 years since the last one passed. Nobody really thought about "intentional" back then, maybe life wasn't so busy. One grandma lived about 30 minutes away, and Mom and us kids would drive up to visit her often during the summer (she didn't drive). Mostly we just helped around her house, played with her great antique toys from my Mom's childhood, read her books, played the Victrola etc. She would come to our house sometimes to babysit, or rotating holidays etc. I don't think there were ever any "special" outings, it really wasn't necessary. Just spending the time with her was good enough I think.

    My other grands lived in a different state, so every summer when my Dad had vacation we would meet them at their cabin and farm and spend our two weeks there. Again, other than a couple weeks at a lake! there was nothing special done. Dad and Grandpa worked and us women folk (sister, mom, grandma, aunt) would do the housework, shopping, swimming, and sometimes help out with the work. There was fishing and walks around the lake and church and once in a while we would drive to the next town for cinnamon rolls from the Swedish bakery. Other than that, our contact with them was birthday cards and an occasional letter.

    All this to say, to my memory, "special" is nice, but just being there loving them when you are with them, and including them in your life and regular activities is the best. Even if it isn't a lot.

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  13. Thinking about this a little more, I wanted to add that I have come to see the "special" about grandparents is not more people inserting themselves into the childs' world, but the opportunity for the child to be in somebody else's world. It's from their grandparents that they can see their history learn to appreciate and value the world that has existed before them. JMTC!

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  14. Lovely ideas in the comments! I am glad to read all of them. All seven of our grandkids live far away. We see them once a year. I am still busy with 7 left at home, ages 19 (she doesn't keep me busy as the others...LOL!) on down to newly three. I know how you feel about wanting to be grandma but also having to still be mama at the same time. Our two youngest were aunts before they were born. Anyway, sorry to ramble. I just want you to know that you are not alone in this. I am glad for this conversation here. I have a few ideas up my sleeve now!

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