Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Grandparent's Day!

Today is Grandparents' Day! If you have grandparents, or if your children have grandparents, make sure you take a minute to call them and tell them you love them!
Everyone knows that grandparents play a special role in the lives of children. But we may not always realize just how important grandparents are! Here are some of the ways grandparents help children

FAMILY HISTORIAN: Grandparents can tell children about the family, ranging from what life was like in the "olden days", to stories about "when your daddy was a little boy." They can keep family traditions alive, and help give a child a sense of his place and importance in the family.

NURTURER Grandparents are often thrilled to become grandparents, and may be eager to help care for the grandchildren... whether this means providing childcare on a daily basis while parents work, taking the child for an occasional weekend, or just giving lots of hugs and attention at family gatherings. And any child can benefit from as many loving adults in her life as possible!

ROLE MODEL: Grandparents have obviously raised children before, and, depending on the particular family, the grandparents can become valuable role models for the new parents! Grandparents can help give time-tested tips on raising children, and reassure parents that they are doing a great job.

PLAYMATE: Grandparents can become much-loved playmates for grandchildren. This can mean anything from performing funny magic tricks to wow the children, to taking them out in the backyard to play T-ball, to teaching them how to play chess, to letting them teach you how to play video games! Parents are often busy with the day-to-day tasks that come with raising children, but grandparents can provide something special, becauae they have the gift of time.

RAISING GRANDCHILDREN Traditionally, when both of a child's parents passed away, or even when only the mother passed away, the first choice would be for children to go live with their grandparents. These days, more and more children are ending up living with their grandparents. Sometimes this is still because one or both of the children's parents have passed away. But often it is because the parents are still alive, but have become unavailable to raise their children. For instance, both parents may be deployed in the military, or, more often, the parents may have drug or alcohol problems, mental illness, etc. Grandparents who take on the task of raising grandchildren face many different issues, including financial problems (unless they allow the children to go into foster care temporarily, and then be placed with them as foster children, custodial grandparents may not be able to get financial assistance!), and dealing with the special needs that many children have after being abused or neglected by parents.

Some senior citizens who do not have grandchildren of their own, or who feel they have enough love to share with an extra child or two, decide to become Foster Grandparents. Foster grandparents provide tutoring, mentoring, or childcare, usually to at-risk children in their community. The children, who often don't have a lot of positive adult family members to rely on, gain a special role model.

Not every child has the benefit of a grandparent in his life. Some grandparents pass away when grandchildren are very young, or even before grandchildren are born. Or grandparents may be in very poor health and be unable to give grandkids much attention. And then, sometimes, grandparents just choose not to be involved with their grandchildren, or parents choose not to have the grandparents involved. For example, i fyou were abused by your parents as a child, you might not feel comfortable encouraging a close relationship between your parents and your vulnerable children.
For whatever reason, if your children do not have grandparents available in their lives, you can still help them have a grandparent relationship! Most communities have programs that will match parents and children with lonely senior citizens who don't have family members of their own available. Taking your child to visit a senior citizen for a few hours each week can be a great asset to all involved! To find out about this sort of opportunity, call retirement homes or nursing homes in your area, or call your community's senior center.
Happy Grandparent's Day!

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