I spent most of Saturday afternoon listening to primary school-aged poets reciting at a book launch to celebrate the release of A Treasury of NZ Poems for Children. Children from a variety of schools and year groups had been invited to write a poem about a place that was special to them. They wrote about lots of different places – beaches and bedrooms, holiday spots and classrooms. But if there was one popular theme, it was Nanna and Poppa’s place.
The kids wrote about special meals, and bedrooms that were always ready. They wrote about the pictures on the walls, and the clock that announced when it was dinner time. I loved it because it caught me smack bang in the middle of a couple of generations. Some of the warmest, safest memories from my childhood are of the times I spent staying with my grandparents. My children are lucky enough to have both sets of grandparents living nearby and their houses are places where wonderful memories are built.
Of course the relationship between parents and their adult children and families isn’t always easy. Jenny Hale, a Family Coach at The Parenting Place, put together some tips for helping to make the relationship work if it needs tweaking.
Grandparent’s wish list
In an ideal world, my children would –
- Appreciate that we can be busy and that we need some lead up time to making a commitment like babysitting or picking a child up.
- Remember that we still think manners are important. We can adapt to lots of things but getting your children to say please and thank you means a lot. Hearing words of gratitude for a gift makes us feel appreciated for our efforts.
- Leave some toys for us to buy. When your children seem to have every toy and gadget under the sun, it is hard for us to ‘treat’ them to something special.
- We appreciate it when you check in with us over our rules. When your children know our rules and you support us, even if they are different in your home, it helps them work here.
- We love to be invited to special events like birthdays, school prize giving, and swimming classes or sports events.
- At our age, we may not have read all the parenting books, or even be on quite the same page as you, but we will care for and love our grandchildren. Please give us the opportunity to look after them.
Parent’s wish list
In an ideal world the grandparents would –
- Spend time with each of our children doing something special. It would not need to be expensive or for hours on end.
- Be happy to talk to our children on the phone or Skype and have some great questions to ask.
- Remember their birthdays or significant events. Attending these events is a real bonus.
- Be willing to teach our children new skills like; sewing, baking, knitting, card games, chess or making crafts. You have more patience and time than we do!
- Be great listeners. When we unload a parenting challenge, sometimes all we need is a listening ear, not lots of advice. Please check what we are looking for.
- Let us carry the final authority. We understand that you may disagree with our parenting decisions but we need your support rather than our decisions to be overridden.
All relationships take effort, initiative and insight. If it is at all possible, forging a good connection between parents, grandparents and children is worth the investment. Give it your best shot.