Children benefit from having a variety of loving adults caring about them and serving as role models, according to Michigan State University extension specialist Suzanne Pish. If you need to intervene to ensure that your kids respect their grandparents properly, work proactively to ensure a healthy and positive intergenerational relationship.
Set a respectful example for your children to follow as you interact with their grandparents, advises Shaline Mitra, author of “The Art of Successful Parenting.” Speak kindly and lovingly, treating parents or in-laws with the honor and respect they deserve as elders.
Avoid saying anything disrespectful about your parents or in-laws when your children may overhear you . If you must have a negative conversation about grandparents, have it privately where children will not witness or overhear the details.
Instill a respect for your family’s heritage in your children, counsels Grace Ketterman, author of “Mothering: An Expert’s Guide to Succeeding in Your Most Important Role.” Talk about history, values and cultures present in your family so children can learn about heritage. Discuss grandparents, telling funny, meaningful or interesting stories from your past. Children may have a special fascination with stories about your childhood and hearing about your antics and activities.
Provide children and grandparents with an opportunity to spend quality time together to develop a bond, suggests clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel. If family members live in close proximity, encourage regular visiting to strengthen and feed the bond. If family members live far away from each other, use other means of connection – video chatting online, telephone calls and letters.
Help your children notice unique and special attributes about their grandparents to encourage a tighter bond. Perhaps a grandmother has a beautiful singing voice or a grandfather is a wrangling expert, pulling fish from the water with ease. A grandparent's skills or attributes could be the starting point of a special grandparent-grandchild relationship as the elder teaches the youngster skills.
Explain the importance of heritage and respect if your children feel reluctant to bond with a grandparent. Even a grandparent who has health problems or other difficulties making it difficult to connect deserves family honor and respect, simply for his position in the family. Love can triumph over challenges, making it possible to love a grandparent for who he is, not what he does or doesn’t do, suggests Ann Douglas, author of “The Mother of All Parenting Books.”
- Michigan State University Extension: Grandparent and Grandchild Relationships
- The Art Of Successful Parenting; Shaline Mitra
- Mothering: An Expert's Guide to Succeeding in Your Most Important Role; Grace Ketterman
- Kveller: Respecting Grandparents
- The Mother of All Parenting Books; Ann Douglas
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images