How often do you make the effort to take your kids to visit their grandparents? Was it last week, last month, or maybe last year? I’ve noticed a shift in myself to make less of an effort as our family has expanded and the pace of our life has ramped up. It hasn’t happened overnight, but there has been a decrease in the amount of time we spend with our children’s grandparents. It hasn’t necessarily been intentional, but my lack of attention and care for the amount of time my kids spend with their grandparents has caused distance in our family relationships.
Is it just me, or is anyone else experiencing this in their relationships, too? The distance doesn’t feel natural and I believe it exists because we are one of the first generations to choose jobs with more income potential, independence, and adventure over valuing family relationships enough to build a life close to home. There is no shame in moving away from family for great opportunities, but wherever you live, fighting to protect your children’s relationships with their grandparents is worth the effort. Here’s why.
Grandparents leave a legacy.
I lost my dad unexpectedly 7 years ago this month and I can’t tell you what I would give to have him back for these years of raising my children. His convictions, his opinions, his discipline, his life still matter to me. He was in no way a perfect man, but his legacy is one of a faithful, loving father and I want my children to follow his example. It is their legacy, too, and I am left to carry it on and communicate it without his actual presence. If you have the gift of raising your children with your parents’ or in-laws’ presence, I encourage you to identify their good qualities that you want your kids to embody and share those with your children as often as possible.
Grandparents add to a chorus of voices.
It’s easy for my generation of parents to be arrogant if we’re not careful. Why would we ask our parents or friends for their opinions when we can Google the answer to every parenting problem we face? It would be easy for us to believe that we are smarter than every generation that has come before us, but that’s not true. Our educated voices are not the only voices our children need to hear. A chorus of trusted voices will give them a richer perspective on life. Bringing our parents into our lives and our decisions and recognizing that they have wisdom for our children is the smartest thing we can do. They have seen things we haven’t seen. They have lived through times we haven’t. They have lessons to teach our children—if we let them.
Kids deserve an unfiltered view of their grandparents.
It’s easy as our parents age to focus on their shortcomings rather than where they exceeded or met our expectations. It’s good to remember that they are in a season of transition, too, that’s often fraught with new limitations and fears. We can honor our parents as they age by giving our children the opportunity to get to know them through their own eyes and not through the filter through which we see our parents.
Our views are often clouded with criticism and a desire to control or manipulate the relationship our kids have with our parents. Let’s look at our parents through our children’s eyes and see what they see. I bet their unfiltered views will give us so much grace and a much needed fresh perspective on the gifts our parents are to our whole family.
P.S.: Grandparents Day is Sunday, so if you’re looking for ways to show the grandparents some affection, here is a printable love list for your children to fill in and give to their grandparents, plus 5 fun ways to celebrate.
What do you value about the relationship you had/have with your own grandparents?