Are you creating memories with your grandkids?
“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided, but for the feeling that you cherished them.” ~Richard Evans
These words are perhaps even more true for grandparents than for parents. As a grandparent, you may be tempted to give your grandchildren all the material things that you may have been unable to give their parents. But resist the temptation! While spoiling is certainly a privilege of grandparenthood, if you are fortunate enough to remember times that you spent with your own grandparents, you will likely remember the things that you did together far more fondly than you remember the things that they gave you.
When my grandfather passed away, my brother said in his eulogy that he had taught all his grandchildren 3 things; the value of a penny, how to love a dog and how to take care of a car. I remember so well the times I spent with him sorting pennies for his coin collection, walking the dog together and helping him polish his car. I cherish those memories, but I can’t remember a single material thing that he gave me, although I’m sure there were many.
Grandparents have a special role to play in the lives of their grandchildren and special gifts that only come with age; more time, more patience, more stories to tell. Sharing these gifts will make grandchildren feel cherished and they will always remember that feeling.
What kinds of memories are you creating with your grandchildren?
Children love to hear stories about their parents. Did you know that your Dad once hid a kitten in the basement for a week before he told the grownups? Bring out those old family photos and tell the stories that go along with them. As the grandparent, you have a wealth of memories that only you can share. You could even write some of the stories down and have your grandchildren illustrate them to make a book of family memories.
- Take time for that walk in the snow, looking for animal footprints and imagining what might have made them. Who do you think made that track – a rabbit or a giant? Grandparents know how to let a child’s imagination roam free and how to make believe.
- Make music together. Sing the songs that you sang as a child. Sing the songs that you sang to their parents. Sing the songs that your grandparents sang to you. Make up new words together. And definitely play the pots and pans together!
- Read, read, read. It is only grandparents who really don’t mind reading that favourite book over and over and over again! Go to the library or the bookstore together or look for copies of the books that their parents loved to read when they were little.
- Volunteer together with your older grandchildren. There are many family volunteer opportunities to explore from helping to tidy up the park on Earth Day to visiting seniors to spending time with a newcomer family to make them welcome in your community.
The stories you create together are the tales that they will someday pass on to their children and are what they will remember and treasure the most about having you in their lives.
Dale Gellatly is the Community Engagement Director at Carizon Family and Community Services and a Grandmother of four little ones.