What is so great about being a grandparent? The most common retort I have heard to that question is that you can spoil them rotten and then hand them back to their (soon to be frazzled) parents! Whenever I hear someone say that, it seems like they really mean it. I wonder how many of us are guilty of spoiling our grandkids, just because we can?
I don’t think it is spoiling a grandchild to give them most of your attention while they are at your place. After all, you want to make the most of being together. I don’t think it is spoiling your grandchild to take them on adventures or vacations that perhaps their parents haven’t the time or the money to be able to do.
Spoiling means, for many grandparents, not setting any boundaries and allowing their grandchildren to do anything they want, and to have anything they want when they are in charge. In other words, you never say, ‘No!’ It is easy to fall into the trap of wanting your grandkids to love you by being their ‘sugar granny’. However, spoiling them can lead to them becoming disrespectful, demanding and selfish because they think the whole world revolves around them, and you are their servant!
What makes you a ‘great’ grandparent?It's important to display your unconditional love, not by giving them stuff, but by giving them hugs and kisses, letting them know that they are special, listening to their stories, going to their school and sports functions and generally having fun with them. The more physically fit you are the more you can offer them in the way of hiking, riding, boisterous play, fishing and taking them places. Even if you have a physical disability, a child will gravitate toward you if you make real eye contact, hold their hand, talk to them lovingly, ask them about their interests and help them learn some of the things that maybe their parents haven’t been able to teach them.
What do you want you grandchildren to remember about you?Here are some of the responses my grandparent friends gave me:
1. That I valued each grandchild equally and unconditionally. They knew they could always count
on me for love, good advice, time and adventure.
2. That I accepted them for who they were and that I encouraged them in their hopes and dreams.
They knew I loved them dearly and that love was not diminished by their behavior. Their
behavior was addressed when necessary.
3. That I was a positive role model. My positive outlook was an inspiration to them and the memories
we built together would last their lifetime.
4. They loved their visits to my home. They had fun, loved my food and got spoiled occasionally!
5. I made them feel safe and secure emotionally and physically. I was consistent in my love and my
discipline and I kept my word.
6. I took the time to listen. I shared their joys and comforted them in times of trouble, fear or
disappointment, no matter how big or small I might have considered it.
7. They learned from me about faith in God. They observed my life and my relationship with God
as being real.
8. They remembered the teachable moments, learned how to make things, and let me include them in my baking and sewing projects. I hope they appreciated the times I helped them make wise
Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families and friends.