This article is also available in Chinese, Malay and Tamil versions.
Malay: Datuk dan Nenek: Menjalin hubungan
Tamil: தாத்தா-பாட்டிகள்: உறவுமுறைகளை வளர்த்தல்
Why family relationships are important for grandparents
The arrival of a grandchild might bring you closer to your grandchild’s parents. You might feel pride and joy as you watch them become good and caring parents.
Your relationship with your grandchild can also be rewarding for you both, and can have a very positive influence on his development. Children who have warm relationships with their grandparents tend to be more resilient and can bounce back better during life’s ups and downs.
However, it sometimes takes time to develop these positive relationships, particularly if there has been distance or strain in your relationship with your grandchild’s parents.
No matter how well you get along with your grandchild’s parents, you can build the relationship by being respectful, giving support when it’s needed, and spending quality time together. This is likely to benefit your grandchild, his parents and you.
Tips for building your relationship with your grandchild
The best way to build a relationship with your grandchild is to enjoy your time together. Here are some ideas:
• Show your grandchild warmth and affection. You can do this by speaking gently, smiling and giving lots of cuddles.
• Tune in your grandchild’s feelings and what he is interested in. For example, if he looks excited to be at the park, smile and look excited too.
• Share hobbies – both his and yours. For example, if your school-age grandchild loves cooking, you could share some family recipes with him and cook them together.
• Share family stories and memories – for example, tell your grandchild about what life was like when you were his age or share stories about his parents when they were little. Sharing stories should bring you closer as a family, so don’t tell family secrets or stories that would embarrass anyone.
• Agree on core family values that your adult child and his spouse want to pass down, and share them with your grandchild – for example, being polite and considerate, the importance of family and respecting other people’s views.
• Put precious or breakable things out of sight or out of reach. This can help you relax more and enjoy your grandchild’s company.
• If you have several grandchildren, treat them all as individuals and treat them equally. This helps each one feel special to you.
Make sure your spouse has a chance to develop a relationship with your grandchild too – especially if you are the more-involved grandparent. For example, you could teach your spouse the rules of a game your grandchild likes or encourage your spouse to take your grandchild on an outing or to a meeting with friends.
As your grandchild gets older and his interests broaden, he might seem less excited about spending time with you. Here are some ideas for maintaining your relationship:
• Ask your grandchild how to use a smart phone or follow social media. As well as sharing an activity, this will help you keep in touch.
• Be a good listener for your grandchild as he becomes more independent. You might be able to give him different points of view as he works out who he is and what he wants to be.
• Ask your grandchild’s parents for help. For example, they could let you know about upcoming school concerts or sporting events, or keep you up to date with your grandchild’s interests.
Tips for building your relationships with your grandchild’s parents
Here are some ideas for nurturing your relationship with your grandchild’s parents:
• Let your grandchild’s parents know when you think they’re doing a good job as parents – most people like praise!
• Spend time together doing things you all enjoy, like a walk in the park or watching a movie.
• Share meals with your grandchild’s family. This is especially easy if you live nearby. It can also be a good way to catch up together if your grandchild lives with you during the week.
• Give support when it’s needed. You could offer to cook a meal or run an errand, or just encourage them as parents. Advice is sometimes helpful, but it can be a good idea to ask before offering your advice or opinion.
Give your grandchild’s parents time and space to work out what kind of parents they want to be. Here are some ideas for helping everyone get along:
• Try to agree on what’s important to you all as a family – for example, that you will treat each other with respect, or that you will always celebrate special occasions together. You can then refer to these values when life gets busy – for example, ‘Let’s try to get together after Zhi Wei’s classes on Saturday. Remember – it’s a special day for our family’.
• Respect the values of your grandchild’s parents, especially if your child has married someone from a different background or culture. This is not just good for your relationship with your grandchild’s parents. It also helps your grandchild develop a sense of pride and belonging in his community, which is good for his development.
• Avoid intervening when your parents discipline your grandchild. Children benefit from consistent messages about how to behave. If you try to prevent your grandchild’s parents from using a behaviour strategy they have chosen, your grandchild might think the behaviour was OK. If you have a difference of opinion, you can discuss it with your grandchild’s parents when your grandchild is not around.
• Accept that your grandchild’s parents might do some things differently from the way things were done when your children were young. Their parenting approach will be based on their family situation and their child’s temperaments and needs. It might be different from your own approach.
Tags: Grandparenting /3 Generation Family /Family Bonding