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The Power of Grandparents – Jennifer Oaten

The Power of Grandparents – Jennifer Oaten

What impact did (or does) your Granny, Pop, Grandad, Grandma, Ouma, Nonna, Nonno or Nanna have on your life? Just like the names we call our grandparents, our relationships with them are also very diverse.

My Granny lived across the road from my primary school, and I went to her house every day during primary school for lunch, delicious fresh bread tomato sandwiches! I also stayed with her on Thursday nights so I could do ballet, have my favourite dinner and have a special time with her. She also taught me how to play the card game Canasta, and we watched ‘Cop Shop’ together. I also have fond memories of picking loquats and apricots in her garden.

Grandparents, special friends, and other significant others are such an important part of young people’s lives and help provide a solid foundation for success in life.

We loved having many grandparents on campus this week for our Years 5 and 6 Open Night and our Year 6 Grandparents Mass, classroom visits and morning tea. The smiles were a great indication of how much everyone enjoyed this special time.

One of the most remarkable phenomena in all human relationships is the relationship between a grandparent and a grandchild.

Why is the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren so valuable and how can this relationship be fostered? 

1. Teach each other skills

  • Grandparents have so many skills to share. Such as fishing, cooking a special recipe, card games, crocheting (a current trend), scrabble, hammering nails, sewing a hem, polishing shoes, playing chess, building a model, and the list goes on. Passing on this knowledge and family rituals is a great way to build relationships. These skills and rituals then become part of their lives.
  • The teaching of new skills runs both ways too. Granddaughters have excellent technical skills and can teach grandparents about computers, phones, TV remote controls, and operating the latest gadgets such as an air fryer!

2. Learn about the world together

  • As parents, we often struggle to find time for visits to the museum, art gallery or zoo. Still, a great opportunity exists for either grandparent or granddaughter to be the tour guide and share their knowledge about history, art or animals.
  • They can watch documentaries or movies together and discuss the ‘why’ behind storylines, current affairs, decisions or world events. These types of activities will help our girls to develop their voice and the reasoning behind their opinions.
  • Grandparents can read the same novel as their granddaughter is reading at school. This can help her understand the plot, theme or characters. Having discussions about the book provides a great way for grandparents and grandchildren to connect. You can ask questions and share your favourite characters and the reason why. 
  • Grandparents are also crucial in keeping the stories of family history alive.
  • Volunteering together may be another option.

3. Solve problems together

  • Grandparents are wise, with many lived experiences and are a step back from the emotions of being a parent. They can provide sound advice in helping our girls solve problems for themselves. This is a great skill, so talking to them about what they think they can do, first steps, what next and suggest other options too. These conversations can build support and confidence for young people to be empowered to make changes and solve problems.

4. Build a great bond

  • Words of acknowledgement from grandparents can be very powerful. Grandparents who let their grandchildren know how precious and unique they are, build strong connections throughout their lives.
  • Teenagers thrive on acceptance and belonging, and the feeling of being valued for who they are encourages positive wellbeing. The stability of grandparents who care and reinforce can provide a solid foundation for dealing with challenges in their lives.  
  • Grandchildren can build bonds and show their love through small gestures such as sending cards, writing letters or helping out, but most importantly, they can give their time. The bonding power can be silent and may go unnoticed until later in life, as may the values that grandparents may pass on to grandchildren.

No matter what your teenage grandchild may say or think, grandparents and other significant people are very important to them. So find time, both grandparents and grandchildren, to share one on one time and make those special moments because this is when the magic happens that will last a lifetime.

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