Those of us lucky enough to have grandmothers and/or grandfathers know how influential they can be in our lives. If you already are or soon to be a grandparent, you most likely appreciate this role, perhaps more than any other you’ve ever had. It’s a well known fact that grandchildren provide a focus for many older adults- grandparents can have a huge impact on their grandkids lives.

    We (the parents) all have some memories of our Grandparents role in our lives but did we ever appreciate it enough at the time?
    For me, my grandmothers provided a huge basis for my self-belief, manners, values and respect. One grandmother, a self-made successful business woman taught me how to believe in myself, how to celebrate my uniqueness and how I shouldn’t try and ‘blend in’. She taught me resilience and how nothing in life comes easy – hard work and self-belief will always win out in the end. In my teenage years I loved spending time with her and often choose a night with her over a night out with friends. Although looking back my friends often ended up in her house, where, we had to admit we had more fun than a night on the town! She had a wonderful young heart and a genuine interest in everybody she met, young or old/rich or poor. She also taught me to never judge a book by its cover – she would say “give everyone a chance or you will loose out on a lot of valuable experiences.” This I found to be very true and has stayed with me to this day. I enjoy people, first and foremost, where they come from, what career they have, their social standing has never held any importance to me whatsoever.
    My other grandmother instilled table manners in me from a very early age ( Im not saying it didn’t drive me nuts at times but…), she taught me the importance of respecting ourselves and others. She taught me the basic understanding of manners in all aspect of life (an art that is dying today). These lessons have taken me a long way, they have given me confidence in so many social situations over the years that I will be forever grateful to her.

    I am writing this article because it saddens me to think that so many kids and teenagers do not have the opportunity to learn from their Grandparents the way our generation did. In a recent workshop I ran, so many teens admitted to staying on their phones while they were visiting their grandparents or just to not having a lot of interest in talking to them, believing they had nothing much to talk about. After the workshop many of them wrote on their evaluation forms that they were going to try talk to their Grandparents and value their time with them, try to get to know them better, and, believe it or not, turn off their phones when they were with them.

    Kids today have a constant voice in their heads that we never had – the ongoing persistent voice of social media, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They need the voice of reason to help them to balance this and who better to give it to them but their ‘grandparents’.
    Sometimes kids will listen to grandparents in a different way to the way they listen to their parents. Grandparents have so much to share with their grandchildren – relationship stories, career stories, friendship stories, boyfriend stories and so much more.
    To the parents – try to ignite a relationship between your parents and your kids from a very early age – a relationship based on fun, chat and trust. Try not to let your kids believe visiting their grandparents is a chore, give them time together without you, let them get to know each other. Do not underestimate the importance of this relationship in your kids lives.
    To the Grandparents – it is never too late to leave your mark. Many grandparents do not realise the importance of the role they have in the grandkids lives. Make the time to sit down and talk to them, take an interest in what they are doing (even if you do not always agree), show them you have lived and you have a lot of interesting things to share with them. Take the opportunity to do the things with them you may regret not doing with your own kids. A grandparent is NOT a parent – try not to lecture them, that’s their parents job! Have fun and watch a very special relationship grow. Whether you teach them how to cook, how to sew, how to keep accounts, how to love nature, how to fish, how to sail, how to kick a ball, how to respect themselves, how to eat with manners, how to believe in themselves – there is a world of knowledge you have to share – please take the time and share it.

    “Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation.”

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