September 12 marks the 31st anniversary of Grandparents Day. It’s a time for family celebration and a chance to honor the important role grandparents play in children’s lives.
Carey Casey talks about how life-changing becoming a graddad has been for him:
It’s given me a whole new awareness of the gift of life. One example was just a few weeks after our first grandchild was born. My son and his wife were visiting us with their baby girl, and the baby’s schedule pretty much ruled the entire household. One morning, we were all getting ready to head out and I was getting on everyone’s case: Why aren’t you ready? We have to leave! I can’t be late! Then, when I thought I had my younger son all ready to walk out the door, it was like, ‘Where’s my wife? Where’s Melanie?!’ Someone told me, ‘Um … she’s holding the baby.’
‘Holding the baby? You mean … she’s awake?’ Suddenly my priorities changed. Surely we could spare a few minutes. And in a flash I was right there at Melanie’s side, making googly eyes and talking to my granddaughter. She opened her eyes, looked at me, and gave a big smile. Maybe it was gas, but no, I’m going with another explanation: There’s a special bond — a magical connection — between a grandfather and his grandchild.“
Then read more about the history of Grandparents Day or see activities, articles, poems and quotes about the holiday.
If you’re a grandfather, you can easily identify with Carey. The granddad years are a special, rewarding time. And what’s even better is that your job isn’t just about making googly eyes. You have a unique role to play. As you try to avoid stepping on your children’s toes as they learn to be parents, you also have a whole new round of responsibilities. You impart values. You see the big picture. You offer an older and wiser perspective on the world. And like Carey experienced, you’re more likely to put other things on hold so you can soak up all the joy of investing in your loved ones. See our articles on grandfathering.
If you’re a father, recognize that your children can receive very real benefits from having strong relationships with their grandparents. Grandparents have important roles in transmitting wisdom and values, providing a link to the past, and being an extra source of support and guidance for grandkids. Sometimes kids need to hear things from someone other than their parents, and grandparents can fill that role to perfection. Make every effort to encourage your kids in their relationships with their grandparents and other older mentors.
- GRANDDADS: Show your grandkids your workshop, your collections, your hobbies, or other things you’re interested in. Ask their opinion on something you’re doing.
- DADS: Do your children’s grandparents ever get carried away in their enthusiasm and involvement? Have a calm, honor-filled conversation where you express appreciation for them while establishing clear boundaries that strike a good balance.
- GRANDDADS: Write down some words of encouragement and thoughts about life for each grandchild personally. Include childhood experiences that shaped you, your perspective on education, important lessons you have learned, etc. Here’s a book that will help.
- DADS: If your children’s granddads have passed away or live far away, find a “surrogate” for your children in your neighborhood, at a nursing home, or at church.
- GRANDDADS: Schedule a regular grandkids’ weekend at your house — no parents allowed. Give their parents some time away to recharge and/or strengthen their marriage.