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A Child's Relationship With Their Grandparents

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Mar 2015 | comments*Discuss
Family Relationships Grandparents

Children’s relationships with their grandparents will differ widely. Some children will consider their grandparents as kind of substitute parents while others may look upon them as something akin to a fairytale – they hear a lot about them but haven’t actually laid eyes on them lately. Regardless of how often your children and their grandparents can see each other there are many things that parents can do to foster a relationship between their children and their parents.

Encourage Communication
Whether grandparents live in the next town or another country, children can still communicate with them as often as they would like. Don’t worry, this communication needn’t burn through your savings either. In fact, investigating electronic options of communication may require you and your children to spend more time with the grandparents in setting up electronic accounts and equipment. Once you sort out the ways in which grandparents are available for communication, remind your children that they are always welcome to:
  • Write out a letter, card or postcard.
  • Make special cards and notes.
  • Send a text message.
  • Buy a phone card with their birthday money or savings.
  • Send an email or free e-card.
  • Make a special telephone call every now and then.
Develop Family Traditions
For children to enjoy strong relationships with their grandparents, parents should try to make sure that the two groups can see each other fairly regularly. Even if you can only arrange meetings at Christmas or during summer holidays, developing family traditions for these events will help everyone feel connected and reassured. Some examples include:

  • Trimming the tree when grandparents arrive.
  • Sending children and grandparents to finish holiday shopping together.
  • Having grandparents read special holiday stories and poems to children.
  • Allowing grandparents to put children to bed each evening when they are together.
  • Letting children and grandparents have a special outing, such as to the beach or a museum.
  • Encouraging a grandparent’s day when they and the children can decide on the itinerary.
Allow Visitation
Often when parents separate or divorce it is the grandparents who miss out on relationships with their grandchildren. Not only does this hurt the grandparents, but it hurts the children as well. If you and your partner are having difficulties, try not to bar his/her parents as a means of getting back at your partner. Instead:
  • Tell your partner that you expect him/her to arrange for the grandparents and children to meet up.
  • Encourage your children to communicate with both sets of grandparents.
  • Send out announcements – graduations, religious events, etc. – to both sets of grandparents.
  • Ask your partner to arrange for his/her parents to be present at any birthday or holiday celebrations that (s)he arranges for the children.
Grandparents and grandchildren can have special relationships and parents should encourage this. Often, in the event that anything happens to a parent, children look upon their grandparents to fill the void so making sure that the two remain close is important. Even if partners separate, each parent should remain conscious that his/her parents and children communicate and keep up family traditions. Remember, extended family is important for children’s identity as well as sense of security, and grandparents are at the forefront of any extended family. Encourage your children’s relationships with their grandparents, and their happiness will be a worthwhile result.

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It's also very important that grandchildren experience grandparents and parents interacting with each other. Visit your parents often, don't just drop the grandchildren off when your need for a babysitter arises.
Renee - 24-Mar-15 @ 3:39 AM
@hardcore - I'm sorry to hear this. I take it you are their father, not their grandparent? If so, it is probably something you may want to take to court or to mediation. We have a partner site called Separated Dads which may help you and one article in particular called When Your Ex-Partner Denies You Access, link here . As every father, you deserve to see your children. It is not up to your ex whether or not you can see them. So, you really need to do something about it. I hope this helps.
KidsDevelopment - 26-Feb-15 @ 10:13 AM
Currently my children's relationship it's on a once a week long distance call basis. I am not seeing them for prolonged periods and I think my babies mother has a new relationship It sucks and I have been missing a lot in their life development.
hardcore - 24-Feb-15 @ 8:00 AM
I think our love and acceptance is the most significant influence we have with our children. How we see them and relate to them is everything in their development in their ability to be in relationship in a healthy and mutually beneficial way. We are the role models for our children. How we relate to them is how they learn how to relate to us and to the other people in their lives. Accepting our self teaches them by example to accept their self. Acceptance is the essential ingredient in creating healthy and happy relationships. Don THeiss
Don, Donnie, Truth, - 12-Oct-14 @ 7:43 PM
Grandparents are good for much more than babysitting (although that’s important, too). By letting your kids developing a relationship with their grandparents you’re letting them enjoy the richness of family life and understand that another older generation has much to teach them and pass on. That’s good not only when they’re young but also in the way they’ll be with you and their own children in later life.
Edward - 3-Oct-12 @ 11:44 AM
As a grandparent, I know that parents are busy and unless there's already a close family bond, we're often pushed to the back of the queue, so that visits and phone calls are irregular. I'd love to see my granddaughters more, but it's impossible to just ring without seeming like I'm interfering or nagging. I'd ask all parents to ensure their kids have ample contact with their grandparents. We love them and there's plenty we can teach them, too - and we're always happy to do so.
Angela - 25-Jun-12 @ 11:30 AM
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