Bonding with grandchildren can be done with these five specific things.
Anyone can have a relationship – but not every relationship takes hold of your heart.
Author and speaker Mary Jo Bell believes there is one relationship that should. She is on a quest to strengthen the grandparent connection, and has observed five specific things grandparents can do to become genuinely close with their grandkids.
Find more advice from Mary Jo at www.maryjobell.com.
Bonding With Grandchildren in 5 Ways
Here are some ideas that will help you feel genuinely close to your grandchildren, and will help you to become their hero:
Be as patient and forgiving as you can.
You have likely been working on these qualities for years, and now they can shine even brighter, as you interact with these little ones.
Make regular connections
Think of things you might be able to do on a regular basis, so children can look forward to something from you on a semi regular-ish basis (it’s OK to miss sometimes too, of course!). This could be a special date (I just took three little ones out to breakfast the other day) or reading to them over Zoom, or helping them earn a prize for good behavior (work with the parents on this – let them choose what behavior they would like to see more of). You can check in with them once in a while to see how they are doing on earning their points towards their goal.
Sing with them!
Anytime, anywhere – a grandma’s song is something they may remember forever! The reason for this is that the motor cortex part of our brain loses brain cells very, very slowly. So songs stay with us. These singing times will be comforting memories, even when other childhood memories fade. One thing I love to do with really young ones who can’t really sing yet, is to insert their name into any fun childhood song I am singing. For example, “You Are My Sunshine” could be, with our grandson Jackson, “Jackson’s my sunshine, my only sunshine. Jackson makes me happy when skies are gray.” This way, while they are playing around my feet and I am doing things around the house, there is still this connection. It’s a way of letting them know “Nana knows your special name. She is right here – and she loves you.”
Say the kind and memorable thing
If you have noticed a particularly wonderful quality in a grandchild, take the time to reach out, maybe snuggle them up, look them right in the eye, and tell them that good truth. For example, my grandmother noticed that my little brother Brian was especially gentle and kind to others. She told him “You are a peacemaker.” Well, grandmothers can be like royalty in a family, and when he heard this, I think he sat up a little straighter! Her words encouraged that quality in him. He has been a peacemaker his whole life. (Of course this could go the other way too, so we never want to use negative labels.)
Love them irrationally
It’s been said that everyone needs at least one person in their lives who loves them “irrationally”. As a grandparent, you can be that person! Your generous enthusiasm can cheerlead them for years. You can see the best in them. You can look them in the eyes often, listen deeply, and offer “emotional oxygen.” You can be a hero in their eyes, just by being you!
Mary Jo Bell is author of the book “The Pursuit of Happi-NEST” and host of the “Mom Meets World” podcast. You can learn more at maryjobell.com.