The grandparenting opportunities listed here are yours to take advantage of as you like. Remember … the more you give of yourself, the more you’ll be invited to share in the joys your grandchildren offer.
When the children cry, “Tell me a story!” what comes to mind? “Jack and Jill,” “The Three Little Pigs,” “Cinderella?” How about real stories guaranteed to make their eyes grow wide and your heart beat pitter-pat? Stories about your children will entertain them more than make-believe, and these stories will help your grandchildren see their folks in a different light. Bring out your old photo albums. Children love to see their parents as youngsters. Comparing looks and behavior helps them understand growing up, lets them poke harmless fun at their parents, and allows you all to have a great time.
Tell them about your daughter’s first visit from the Tooth Fairy, when she cried because she wanted her tooth back. Tell them about your son’s third birthday party, when he smeared cake all over his face. Stories like these will trigger warm memories for you — things you may have forgotten. You’ll enjoy your children all over again. You’ll remember the pains you went through to cheer up your daughter and how much trouble it was to make your son’s clown-shaped cake. You’ll feel pride at the considerate things you did and realize that, despite your natural misgivings, you really were a good parent.
Anything can be magical. Can you make a perfect piece of cinnamon toast? Call it magic. Is there a silly dance step the women in your aerobics class perform? Call it a magic step and teach it to your grandchild. Is there an old scarf you don’t wear but can’t bear to part with? Call it your magic scarf and let your grandchild wear it. It will help dry up tears from scraped knees and make any day special. Do you have some old jewelry you no longer want? Turn it into buried treasure in your garden, left by pirates. Or maybe you can do real magic tricks. Whatever the case, use your imagination and your grandchild will, too.
One of the privileges of being a grandparent is that you can call your children as often as you like … as long as you ask to speak with your grandchildren. When your grandchild sees Mommy or Daddy stop everything to answer the phone — yet the call is for her — she will be thrilled.
Sometimes children don’t want to talk. On those days, just send a message that you love them, hang up, and call back another time. Don’t pressure them, or they’ll resent it and never want to speak with you on the phone.
You call the shots in the looks department. Who does your grandchild really look like? Those aren’t Daddy’s ears, are they? No, they really came from your brother, the fireman. The brains, of course, came from you. Kids love to hear this stuff. It makes them proud. It gives them a sense of being part of a bigger picture. The mere shape of their chin connects them to other important people. Where did that dimple come from, anyway? I’ll bet you know!
Finally, when you become a grandmother, you have an excuse to shop anywhere, any time, for anything! Whether you’re at an expensive department store or the corner grocery makes no difference. Your grandchildren are always going to need bigger clothes, party shoes, a funny T-shirt, a new kite, a pop-up book, a cute greeting card, a fresh pack of gum … the list is endless. A word of warning here to the generous: beware what you offer to buy because your grandchildren will expect you to follow through. There’s no need to break the bank to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Parenting advice is given as a suggestion only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider.