Raising our kids near their grandparents is one of the greatest gifts we could ever give them. Truly, it is! Science agrees, but we don’t need yet another study to prove what we already know. Grandparents are treasures unlike anyone else in our lives. So, while we’ll certainly glance at what science has to say, let’s really dig into our hearts and our childhood to find out why grandparents are so good for our own kids.
Raising our kids near their grandparents is the greatest gift of all
According to studies, raising our kids near their grandparents can be incredibly beneficial to our children’s health, teach them to respect the elderly, and even help us parents get a better night’s sleep. However, none of those things are what make it the greatest gift of all. So, what does? Keep reading to find out.
Grandparents are a safe harbor
As parents, it’s our job to teach our kids, to mold them, to make sure they know right from wrong. When they don’t quite meet our expectations, it’s our job to correct them. Sometimes, that can make us pretty unpopular with our kids. Sometimes, it can even make them incredibly angry with us, especially if they’re particularly strong-willed kids.
While grandparents definitely want our kids to behave and (hopefully) respect us when we have to correct them, they’re not on the giving end of the discipline. So, our kids can go to them when they’re mad at us and work through those feelings. Think of our groundings as the “storm,” and grandparents as “safe harbor” from it. By letting our kids run over to grandma’s house for an afternoon, it gives everyone a chance to calm down and find perspective.
They know just what to say to make our kids feel better
As much as we try to build our kids up with compliments and praise, to them we’re not the most reliable source of information. It’s hard to count how many timed we hear, “You have to say that because you’re my mom.” Like, just because we gave them life means we’re completely incapable of being impartial. The funny thing is, grandparents are pretty biased too! Yet our kids believe it when they say, “Everything will be fine,” or “You’re perfect just the way you are.”
Maybe it’s all those years of wisdom. Perhaps it’s because they mastered the art of parenting when we were little. Maybe it’s just because that have such a soothing voice. Whatever the reason, it seems like grandparents know exactly what to say to make our children feel better about themselves and how to say it so that they believe it.
Grandparents can stand in for a parent who isn’t present
For a single parent- either by choice or by circumstance- grandparents fill a very unique role in their children’s lives. A grandfather, for example, becomes a wonderful male role model for a child who is growing up without a father. While he’s not a replacement for dad, he definitely helps ease the pain of missing an entire half of the parenting equation. The same goes for a grandmother filling in for a missing mom.
They act as confidants and sounding boards
As much as we would love for our kids to come to us and tell us everything, sometimes they just don’t feel ready to share a secret. Maybe they’re afraid we’ll be mad or won’t understand. Perhaps they haven’t quite worked out how they want to tell us. Grandparents make the best confidants and sounding board during those times.
They listen without judgement and offer great advice. If that advice is, “Tell your mother,” they give our kids the courage (and the backup) to do so. It’s reassuring to know that our kids can go to a trusted adult with the tough stuff. It’s even more reassuring to know that if that “tough stuff” involves something dangerous, our parents will loop us in.
Grandparents help kids connect with the past in a more meaningful way
Raising our kids near their grandparents gives them such an awesome opportunity to connect with the past in a way that no history lesson ever could. Even if you happen to have a history-loving kid who enjoys reading about, say, the Great Depression, it’s no substitute for hearing a first-hand account from someone who was actually there. By learning about the very real impact – good or bad- that past events had on people we love, our children can make more informed decisions when it’s their turn to run the world. Every generation wants the one that comes after them to do better. The only way that’s possible is by learning from the generation that came before.
What if raising our kids near their grandparents just isn’t possible?
Sadly, sometimes it’s just not possible to live close to our parents. Maybe you and your partner are from different places and you can only live near one set. Perhaps your work takes you to the other side of the world. Don’t worry, your kids can still experience the benefits of being close to their grandparents without being physically near them all of the time. You’ll just have to work a little harder to make it happen.
One great way to help cement their bond is through weekly video calls. Thanks to technology that’s easier than ever. During those chats, kids can show off their latest art projects, share major (and even minor) milestones, or just talk about nothing and everything.
If possible, try to plan trips to visit your family. Even if it’s just every few years, it gives your parents a chance to see their grandchildren in person. While you’re there, make it all about grandparent/grandchild time. In other words, don’t plan a bunch of outings with your kids. Instead, plan a few for you to do alone or with your partner. That way, kids have some one-on-one time with their grandparents.
Throughout the rest of the year, make a point to talk about your parents. Tell your kids stories. Show them pictures. Help them write letters to grandma and grandpa. Maybe even keep a special memory book filled with things your kids want to ask or tell their grandparents next time they see them.
As long as you take the time to really help your children connect with your parents, their bond will be just as strong whether they live across the street or across the world. Of course, if you have the opportunity, you should definitely raise your kids near their grandparents. Trust me, none of you will regret it.