How important are grandparents to children

Grandparents can play a vital role in early childhood development and continue to enrich children’s lives throughout their formative years.

Parents are responsible for nurturing their children’s physical, emotional and intellectual needs. They are responsible for providing education and instilling morals and values to ensure their children grow up to be well-adjusted and productive members of society. This is a tall order and often produces stress and anxiety as they attempt to balance their parental goals for their children with healthy doses of unconditional love.

Grandparents have none of these stresses. They are not required to have expectations for their grandchildren’s futures; that is the role of the parents. As grandparents, they are free to shower their grandchildren with unqualified and boundless love, affection and acceptance.

A primary role of the grandparent is to support the parents in their endeavor to successfully rear the next generation. They can reinforce the parents’ morals and values and share their own childrearing methods and techniques, when warranted and appropriate.

Grandparents can be a great source of reassurance to their adult children, administering moral support, and sometimes if necessary and available, financial support. They can assist with childcare, if called upon, being vigilant not to usurp the parent’s pivotal and primary role in the child’s life.

Other important roles the grandparents can assume in the child’s life:

Auxiliary nurturer

No one will love a child with so much fervor and nurturing as the grandparents. Grandparents enjoy their grandchildren for who they are in the present, with no designs on their future, and can shower them with unequaled affection and attention. Children with doting grandparents experience an extra boost to their self esteem.

Confidante

Even the very youngest child will know instinctively that he can trust the grandparents. Secrets will be divulged, dreams and goals revealed and fantasies expressed to the best listeners of all; the grandparents. Patience, encouragement and applause are the grandparents’ forte. Your child will shine in the light of his grandparents’ approval and love.

Playmate

Grandparents will take the time and opportunity to be your child’s grown up best friend. The relationship between the two generations will exude pure joy and fun. Grandparents revel in being the ones to introduce new experiences to their grandchildren. They will spare no time and expense for the opportunity to expose their second generation of progeny to the wonders of their community and the world. Lucky are the children who have their first experience at the theatre, the library, the museum or the zoo with Grandma and Grandpa. Memories are collected like precious souvenirs and saved up in the recesses of small minds to mentally fortify them when stresses come their way later in life.

Family historians

Grandparents are the child’s roots. They can relate family history with the child and let him know where he comes from and where he fits into the world. Positive stories shared from the past give the child a rich sense of connection and belonging.

Traditions are a key ingredient in family closeness. Grandparents can teach family lore and traditions and instill pride of family into the child’s psyche. Children with close family ties often avoid the identity crises and trials and tribulations of adolescence suffered by some of their peers.

Loving from a distance

All grandparents do not have the luxury of living in close proximity to their grandchildren. Grandparents are clever and inventive, however, and will spare all cost and inconvenience to cultivate and nourish their relationships with their beloved grandchildren. “Being there” does not always mean being physically “there.” Many grandparents and grandchildren have close relationships that thrive and prosper via telephone, internet, postal service and rotating trips and visits.

Grandparents can be a valuable resource throughout your child’s life. When the relationship between the generations is established and encouraged early on in the child’s development, the benefits and perks will be an immeasurably enriching experience for your child.

For children who do not have the luxury of grandparents in their extended family, for whatever reason, parents can seek out other elders to fulfill this valuable role in their child’s life. Older friends, neighbors and distant relatives are good candidates to involve as surrogate grandparents.

“What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life; an most importantly, cookies.” (Rudy Giuliani)