Growing up, my siblings and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents. There were plenty of weekends we would spend the night there. I didn’t realize at the time, how much I would treasure those moments as an adult. Not having my grandparents in my adult life has been one of those things that was a hard lesson learned. I knew they were important to me, but I just feel like I wasn’t done with them yet.
My kids absolutely love their grandparents. I should say, the ones that they know anyway (they don’t really know my biological dad much). My kids are always asking to see their grandparents and stay the night with them. Though some may see that as a parental “break”, I see it as many opportunities for the kids and for our parents.
I very rarely ask for someone to watch our kids. Even more rarely is us asking for them to stay the night somewhere just because we “want a break”. My kids are usually the ones that bring up wanting to stay with their grandparents. We usually discuss it with our parents and then they decide which day works for everyone. I never would force them to go if they didn’t want to, that is why we let them ask, and make it happen for them. As long as both parties enjoy each other, then that is all that matters. Usually it is on a weekend as my parents work and Chris’ parents care for Chris’ brother’s children all week.
I read something recently that talked about how babysitting your grandchildren helps you live longer. Even my mom says, it keeps her feeling younger (though she is definitely young at heart). I have heard it many times that the love a grandparent has for their grandchildren is difficult to explain and is “a whole new love”. Actually, in some cultures, the grandparents actually raise their grandchildren for the first few years of their life. Though, that is very different from the culture here, I can see some of the benefits to that, too.
Grandparents are much more patient than parents are. They have had their experience with raising kids and are wiser with age. Children are more apt to listen to any trusted adult over their parents and who better to teach them things and tell them their life stories than our parents? I have also read that a child will shape healthy relationships based on the relationship they hold with their grandparents. They experience what a positive relationship should be like with trust, compassion, love, patience, regular contact, and emotional support. All of these things are vital for a thriving life.
I think it is fair to say that grandparents have more years of experience than us parents do *OBVIOUSLY*. Grandparents can be some of the best companions for kids. They let their imagination and creativity run wild to discover new things. They instill traditions in kids and families which I find to be very important. Some of my most treasured memories are the ones I share with my grandparents. I only wish I knew as a teenager what I know now so that I could have made the extra effort in learning all of the things I now want to know, since my grandparents (that I was close to) have passed away. I don’t want my kids to miss out on the things I feel I have with mine. Time is precious, especially in relation to older generations.
I think for some people, letting their kids stay somewhere, makes them feel anxious. I would say they feel anxious because they cannot be in total control. Which, I can understand to an extent. You want the best for your kids and are afraid that grandma is going to sugar them up. I mean, I am not totally opposed to my parents giving our kids some sweets. I think they definitely know the difference between a little treat and a whole package of oreos followed by a gallon of chocolate milk.
I honestly don’t remember my grandparents giving us that many “treats”. I do remember the activities we did together and certain things about them. My kids don’t ask to go to their grandparents just so that they can indulge in junk food all night. They genuinely enjoy being with their grandparents. They always have a good time with them. I like that it helps them gain some independence while being with someone that they (and we) can trust. It also brings joy to grandparents because they have had an empty nest and it feels comfortable for them to have that “void” filled again. It especially makes my heart whole when I see their bond. I love seeing the joy that even our grandparents get from spending time with their great grand kids. For instance, Chris’ grandma lives with his parents. She has lost 3 of her 4 kids (one was a still birth) and her husband. She has experienced a lot of heartache for one person. Seeing her light up when we come over with the kids or they come to stay the night fills me with so much happiness. It’s like just for a day she can feel whole again. You can just see it in her face.
There is so much more to grandparents than junk food and “rule breaking”. They are so vital in our kid’s life. I know because I remember how vital mine were in my life. I know because I can see it in my kids and our parents. I know because I can hear it when my kids squeal with excitement at the mention of their “pa-g”, grandma, “meena”, and “papop”.
As long as they are all enjoying each other, what is the harm in letting them be together when they want to be. Even if that means letting go just a little bit of the control we want to have over them?
Just a thought.