Letters to My Grandchild
It's Better The Second Time Around
I remember hearing the expression, "Grand parenting is much more fun than parenting," as a young mother and wondering how this could be true? Although I enjoyed parenting my child and miss having him in the home, I now have to admit it took some work coupled with loving discipline to get through the stages of childhood, preteen and teen years.
My husband and I made some mistakes along the way, but we didn't mention this to him. I guess he figured it out all by himself anyway! It was a bit of a whirlwind at times, and some days I was flying out there solo in space wondering where am I going with this? Parenting does not come with a driver's manual and you have to learn things the hard way: through experience.
However, grandparenting is different. You have already been through the parental journey and can now sit back and enjoy the view. It is your privilege to share with your grandchild what his or her parents did at their age, to the dismay of their moms and dads. Grandchildren bond with you quickly on this point, try it and you will see what I mean!
I will have to say that grandchildren keep you busy and do tend to shadow your every move. They want to be near you, and they consider you their older buddy. We love this in our relationship and find it most endearing. My husband (I disclose nothing on myself) enjoys spoiling our grandchildren and misses them when they are gone. He would never openly admit that his heart yearns for them, but he does have a way of expressing himself in a round about way to friends.
Here is an excerpt from one of his letters:
The grandkids just left Sunday. I can tell you that we've been by ourselves for quite awhile now, so we've been used to a quiet house. Took us about a week to get used to a messy, noisy one again; and now they have gone and the house just seems extra quiet this time around. After taking them to the airport, we spent the day doing absolutely nothing. But, not sure if it was to rest up or because we were bummed because they were gone.
Did I find a couple of things to remember for the next time they come to visit?
- The use of toilet paper and Scott towels goes up exponentially with the number of kids in the house.
- No matter where you go or what you do, it costs at least a $100 minimum (maybe that's just me?)
- Be extra sure the bathroom door is locked
- The attention span of kids today is a lot shorter than even the attention span of when my son was a child
- Kids don't eat a whole lot during meals, but they do look for a vast variety of things to eat
- Everything you thought was yours suddenly becomes community property
.... but it has gotten quiet again.
Poem: Grandmother And Grandfather
Grandmother and Grandfather, when are you coming here?
We really want to see you because to us your are very dear.
You gave us Mom and you gave us our Dad.
If it were not for you, our life would be very sad.
This family would not have been here if it were not for your love and care.
Grandmother and Grandfather, we care for your very much.
Please do not forget us.
Please remember to keep in touch.
God bless you, Grandparents, you are a star in our world.
God placed you both here to bring peace and joy to our world.
by Juliet Wilson, © Capture The Experience Through Poetry, 2010
We Get Better The Second Time Around
Our grandchildren are getting older and we can see the pre-teen years just up ahead. The distance between us limits our ability to physically be there to help guide them. They are fortunate to have parents who love them, care for their needs and provide great parental guidance on life issues.
However, as a grandparent we can give them extra support by gently mentoring. We have learned that children (and their parents) need to have loving support through the early growing years. As Grandparents, we now have the extra time to provide this as often as we desire. We now know how to listen with interest and respond with wisdom from our experience. We have the opportunity to make up for mentoring moments missed with our own children.
Letter writing is an effective communication tool to use in reaching out to children, especially your grandchildren who live a great distance from you. Children love to receive letters and packages and look forward to receiving them with great joy. This is an opportunity to share what you have learned in life with them, helping them to gain some insight about important life challenges.
As you write, keep in mind the age of the child as this will guide you in how basic to keep the content. You may have some difficulty knowing what to write about if your are just starting with this, or it has been some time since you have seen them. Topics to write on can be simple but try to make them specific to the child's interests. Some ideas to consider are:
- Write about the toys you had as a child, which are similar to ones they enjoy. Talk about how they kept you happy and busy. If they are gamers, talk about similarities developing game skills that helped you to learn values such as patience.
- Write about your trips to places they enjoy like the zoo and highlight the animals you saw with great enthusiasm. You could use this to talk about caring for animals.
- Younger children enjoy simple jokes. My hubby had an endless list of "knock knock" jokes.
- Ask them how their event went at at school (spelling bee, science project, ballet recital, etc.). Share how you enjoyed these events at their age. Winning and losing is a great subject to cover on these activities.
- Use holidays to talk about events of interest they enjoy celebrating (decorating the Christmas tree, hunting Easter eggs, Fourth of July fireworks) talk about how you view these events and your beliefs in celebrating them.
- Share your hobby interests and what you have accomplished. This can lead to your sharing of the importance of developing your talents, discipline of learning, or how it helps others.
How do you communicate with your grandchild(ren)?
Sharing From The Heart
My husband has taken to including a letter to our eldest grandchild, who is pre-teen, with every package we send him. His letters include some encouragement on developing virtues that will not only help him, but also help other people in his life.
Our grandson is beginning to help cook family meals and is enjoying it, especially eating the results of his efforts! My husband recently sent him a package which included a "Chef In Training" apron along with a letter of encouragement. I have included a small portion of his letter to him as an example of how letter writing can help mold and encourage valuable character traits (written as he wrote, bolded sentences and all):
"I have to tell you that cooking for others can be one of the best ways to show that you care for them. If you do it for the right reasons, there can be no better example of serving others. Think about it. Cooking takes time away from things you might want to be doing. It gives people something that they can't do without (everybody has to eat, right?). Not only do people have to eat because their bodies need food, but it is also pleasing to the mind (food can satisfy your sense of taste, smell and touch).
So let me ask you this: When you cook, do you ...
> Make just what you want to eat? Or, do you cook something other people like, even if it might not be your favorite?
> Do you just serve yourself? Or, do you make sure everyone has been served first?
> Do you help clean the table afterwards? Or, do you just clean up your area of the table?
There's a lot more questions I could ask, but I think you get my point, and it's something only you can answer. And your answer will probably keep changing as you get older. But, the question will always remain the same -- Do you cook only to take care of yourself, or do you cook for others? Do you help serve and take care of others? . . . You probably haven't thought about cooking this way before, but if you think about it, there is an opportunity to help others in almost everything we do. . . . And when you cook for the right reasons, you have an opportunity to put the needs of others before yourself. That's what good men do.
. . . So my wish for you continues to be that you'll be working your way to becoming a good man. I expect the way you look about things will keep changing as you grow older. I know that I always have to look back and ask myself if I've been doing the right thing. And I'm a lot, lot older than you! . . . Even though you and I already know right from wrong ... Keep in mind that good men always keep thinking about what they do. Remember that good men help and serve other people."
Letters to a grandchild can be kept and stored in the heart and will have lasting effects over time. Grandparents come from a well traveled road and sharing from personal adventures can help grandchildren avoid the potholes they stumbled upon. Your faith, passions and beliefs can inspire a child to build life values that will help him or her personally, and to contribute positively in society.