by Debra Hane
My kids always loved going to visit their grandparents. They knew they’d get their favorite sugary cereal, play lots of games, and be doted on by loving grandparents. And they learned from their grandparents too! Recently, as we talked about lessons learned from their grandparents or their favorite memories with them, my kids shared about having fun together, seeing the joy in hard work and the value of continued learning, and how work and learning can be fun. They also talked about seeing true love in action as my mom cared for my dad through his cancer. Time spent with grandparents can be quite impactful!
That’s why we celebrate Grandparents’ Day! In the United States, this national holiday is celebrated in September, on the first Sunday after Labor Day. It’s a time to show honor and gratitude and even spend some quality time together. Quality time is best when divided between work, service, and play.
Did you ever notice how some kids are more willing to do things for their grandparents than their parents? When grandparents include kids in their everyday work, they help kids develop a positive work ethic. Kids learn that work is a natural part of everyday life, whether it’s preparing a meal, doing the dishes, weeding the garden, or fixing something that’s broken. And as kids and grandparents work together and enjoy one another, kids see how work can also be fun. Our summer visit to my mom’s usually begins with, “Let’s pick up the sticks in this area and then we’ll go swimming.” I was amazed at how quickly and cheerfully my kids would pick up sticks.
At Christmastime, my kids loved helping their grandma deliver plates of Christmas cookies to her neighbors. Now they still like to make Christmas cookies to share with others. When grandparents engage kids in acts of service, it helps kids learn to think about others. A dear friend of the family who took up a grandmother roll in my life would ask me to help her make rolls and mints for our church dinners. I enjoyed our time together but also knew we were doing something valuable. I saw in her a commitment to service and learned to live it out myself. Serving at a young age builds habits for a lifetime service.
I’d say, the number one reason why my kids looked forward to visiting their grandparents was because they knew they’d have fun. Time spent enjoying one another is priceless. It becomes treasured memories. When children receive focused attention from the older generation, enjoying life and laughing together, it builds their sense of well-being and worth. If you are a grandparent, find ways to engage with the youngest generation. Whether you play games, go to a park, or just talk and tell stories, be devoted to enjoying one another. Playing together provides opportunity to teach fairness, following rules, and taking turns.
The influence of grandparents isn’t always good. My husband and I had grandparents who were not positive influencers. They were hurtful and left emotional scars. Maybe that’s the situation you or your children are in. But don’t be discouraged. I benefited greatly from neighbors who treated me like their adopted granddaughter. You could pray for God to show you someone who could be an adopted grandparent. Maybe there’s someone from your church who’d be willing to invest in your child. Maybe you’re an older person who has time to invest in the younger generation. Kids benefit from the positive influence of the older generation. As different generations live life together—learning from one another, having fun together, and helping each other—they will experience a greater sense of purpose and joy.
Whatever role you’re in, will you celebrate Grandparents’ Day with a greater appreciation of this important relationship and invest in more positive times together? It’s the smartest investment you can make!
Stay Connected with CEF
Subscribe to our email lists to receive updates, news, and stories based on your needs and interests.