By Michelle S. Lazurek, Crosswalk.com
Growing up, I had a very close relationship with my grandmother. She lived next door to me, and I often spent many weekends at her home. We would play board games, talk about different life situations or simply sit on the porch together. I often went to her first before I went to my parents with situations and problems in my life. My grandmother was always there with an understanding nod or a hug and helped me navigate through life in a safe environment. Most importantly, she had a deep faith, and she taught me about religion and about God. She took me to church and taught me how to pray. I would not be the person I am today without my grandmother's influence in my life. Because of her spiritual influence, I am a pastor's wife and a Christian author. I attribute my spiritual life to my grandmother.
Our grandparents’ relationship with their grandchildren is so essential when it comes to creating well-adjusted kids. I'm forever grateful for my grandmother’s relationship in my life. I wouldn't be the person I am today without her. A grandparent and grandchild relationship is a very special relationship. Grandparents bond with their grandchildren in ways parents and siblings do not. A child's life is incredibly enriched when they have a grandparent coming alongside them to help them embrace childhood and eventually become an adult. Grandparents offer grandchildren unique parts of their lives that they don't get anywhere else.
Here are seven unique things grandparents offer grandchildren in their lives:
Grandparents offer grandchildren a glimpse into their heritage. Grandparents can make special recipes and tell their grandparents about their ancestors, giving their grandchildren a new understanding of where they came from. They can even teach that child a new language or incorporate new ways of life into their current way of living. Being with a grandparent when they teach about heritage is like a time machine. They can go back hundreds of years and share with them ways they were enriched by their previous generations.
Grandparents can look back on their lives and discover the things they wish they had done better and the things they wouldn't change at all. They can offer these perspectives to their grandchild. Although grandparents may not have been experiencing what a grandchild has experienced, they can navigate the issues and problems they may have as they transition from childhood into adolescence and then into adulthood. Grandparents may not understand the effect social media has on their grandchildren, for example, but they can help them develop a healthy self-concept so they don't use social media in a negative way. A grandparent may not understand the unique challenges of the school system today, but they can understand what it's like to get a bad grade and face angry parents. Grandparents offer wisdom to a grandchild in a way a grandchild can understand. They can also ask a grandparent for an extra opinion after they've asked their parents. Grandchildren become well-adjusted, well-rounded people and know they can always rely on their grandparents for a wise perspective on their situation.
Grandparents can become a safe haven for grandchildren. When they are experiencing a rough patch with their parents, grandchildren can stay with their grandparents while the situation resolves itself. Grandparents are rarely the people who will react in a negative way when a grandchild reveals something to them. The best part about being a grandparent is they're not in charge of the discipline! My grandchild can always look to a grandparent for a hug, a smile, and reassurance everything's going to be okay.
Because there's not as much discipline with a grandparent, kids can feel free to explore their boundaries, test their limits, and become well-adjusted children that can make decisions for themselves. As children near adolescence or adulthood, they would benefit from an experience where they got a chance to spend time with their grandparents away from their parents for an extended time. This will help them learn how to come home on a curfew, consider other people's feelings, and how to explore the world knowing there is an anchor in their grandparents they can go to in case they need them. The best part about having grandparents is they know they'll be there for them if they fall. Knowing they have a safety net while they explore their world will be of great benefit to grandchildren.
Grandparents that enjoy being vulnerable with their children as they age will especially benefit from a close bond that forms between them and their grandchildren. Grandparents who talk about their failures and what they would do differently in life will be so helpful to a grandchild as they grow up. Parents may feel this is not appropriate given the nature of their relationship, but a grandchild who receives this from a grandparent will be able to live their life in a new way because they will be able to explore making decisions but also living with the consequences of their decisions. They understand that their grandparent learned as they dealt with the same experience, and they can make the best choices for their life and learn lifelong lessons from the grandparent.
Grandparents love their grandchildren in a different way than parents love their children. Because a parent has birthed them and raised them from infancy, they have a vested interest in making sure the child grows into an independent, well-adjusted individual. Grandparents, however, get to watch from the sidelines. They can love their grandchildren in a different way. They get to be friends with them. They can take them to their favorite store and buy their favorite outfit without little to no consequence while a parent who's interested in teaching their child the importance of saving a dollar or working to earn what they want may not be able to do that.
Grandparents support their grandchildren in a different way. If a grandchild is having difficulty convincing a parent that they want to do a certain thing or that they are grown enough to experience something new, the grandparent can go to bat for the grandchild, expressing all the ways they should let them try it. The parent will respect their own parent and be more apt to listen to them than they would with their child. Because they've been through life and are beginning to reflect on the good (and bad) choices they've made throughout their lives, they can point those things out as well as what they would do differently. When there's mutual respect, every person in the relationship benefits. Grandparents love and support their kids in a way parents can't. Because of that, their child is ever more rewarded and rich because of the relationship.
Having a grandparent’s presence is so important. They understand the world from a different perspective, and grandchildren can learn from someone who has gone through experiences and come out on the other side successful... and, sometimes, not as successful. Vulnerability and open communication create a unique bond for grandparents and their grandchildren, allowing the younger generation to navigate a life that is eternally blessed.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Sam Edwards
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.
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