A Grandparent’s Bond: It’s The Little Things That Count
My grandma meant a lot to me as a child, despite her living nearly 500 miles away. She always remembered every important milestone and tried to be there for as many events as possible. Today, she is better known as GG (Great Grandma) and despite her physical limitations, my children get to build memories with a person who thinks the world of them.
I’ve found that it is the little things grandparents do that really make the difference when it comes to bonding with their grandchildren. It’s not really what they do that counts, but simply that they do it…and they do it with love. Here are a few ways grandparents or even aunts/uncles can do small things that have a lasting impact on children.
Small Ways for Grandparents to Bond with Their Grandchildren
Greeting cards. Kids LOVE to receive mail. Yes, greeting cards have become ridiculously overpriced, but you can still get $0.99 cards, and truthfully, kids just love getting mail. They don’t need a fancy card. Send something simple just because.
Be “known” for something. My dad is known for always having gum. He has gum in his pockets, gum in his car – and not minty grown-up gum but pink bubble gum. When he arrives at a party, the kids flock to him to get a piece of gum. And they love him for that.
Share books that have meaning. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a book like Mike Mulligan’s and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton that features the name of a family friend, Mrs. McGillicuddy. Turn to the page that mentions Mrs. McGillicuddy and you’ll find a picture of our very own Mrs. Mac. Or my husband’s God parents, Paul and Judy, who like to give the book Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt. If you find a book with a personal tie, make it “your thing” to give.
Remember the important dates. It starts when the child is a baby. Call the mom or dad after those first check-ups to see how they went. As the child ages, remember to check-in after their first dentist appointment, first day of preschool, etc. Remembering the little things and asking the child about them really makes a difference.
Watch them play a game. There are probably a million things you’d rather do on a Saturday morning, but coming to just one soccer game will leave traces of a smile for weeks to come. Especially when you go nuts over how well they played (even if they didn’t).
Bake with them. Lots of kids love to cook and get involved in the kitchen, but finding the time to do so with mom or dad can be a challenge. My mother-in-law recently watched the kids on a no school day. In preparation for the day together she made cookie batter ahead of time. The kids then helped scoop the batter on the tray and unwrap the Hershey Kisses before putting them in the middle. It was just enough baking that they had fun and were able to accomplish something in the small window they had during a busy day.
Play a game. It doesn’t have to be one of the child’s games. Teach them something new! On that same day off from school, my mother-in-law taught my daughter how to play the card game War for the first time. Now she knows it and will remember fondly who taught her.
A little money never hurts. Speaking of cards, throwing in a $5.00 bill for Valentine’s Day or Halloween goes a long way. It’s not really about the money – it’s the thought that counts. My daughter gets so excited when one of our family friends sends her a birthday card every year with money tucked inside based on her age (i.e. Age 8 = $8.00). She thinks that’s a pretty cool tradition.
Attend the important events. Graduations (yes, even preschool), dance recitals, concerts, plays, etc. If it’s convenient for you to travel to these events, your grandchild will be so appreciative. Your presence at these important milestones will never go unnoticed.
Finally, love them unconditionally. At the end of the day, your grandkids knowing that you love them is really the most important thing.
Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to celebrate Grandparents Day with the special grandmothers and grandfathers in your life this Sunday, September 10.