Did you (or do you) know all of your grandparents? What were they like? Did you have a good relationship with them growing up?Grandparents can be a family’s most valuable resource.They can be a support system that reduces household stress. And they can even be the reason we know where we came from and why we understand our cultural heritage.
And if we’re really lucky, our grandparents can provide a source of unconditional love…and more than a few special treats when no one is looking.Of course, not all grandparents are created equal. Some try their best, but simply can’t provide a source of stability or comfort because of their location or their health issues. Others don’t try at all.
But let’s take a moment to celebrate the grandparents who do show up.
For starters, grandparents can play a crucial role in learning more about who we are and where we came from.
They’re the keepers of a family’s oldest stories, including information about relatives we’ll never get a chance to meet.
And sometimes there’s some crucial information in those stories. For example, a relative who passed away too young might give us insight into our health history that could be relevant down the line.
They may also be the last generation that holds the keys to our cultural heritage, including the language or foods that tie us to our ancestors.
Grandparents also give us a sense of security.
Our parents are responsible for giving us a stable home, but doing that probably requires going to work for most of the day. While not all grandparents are retired, local, free babysitters, those who live nearby are typically happy to spend time with us.
In fact, many of us probably never realized how happy it made our grandparents to simply be around us.
There’s research that shows that being close to our grandparents can lend us a sense of stability, particularly in our tough teen years. Teens who have close relationships with their grandparents tend to have fewer emotional difficulties or problems with peers during those formative years.
Grandparents also pick up the slack around the house, in some cases. And this can take some serious weight off the shoulders of our parents. As a result, family relationships are less strained.
Of course, this is only true when grandparents have altruistic motives and healthy relationships with grandchildren and both parents. A toxic presence in a household doesn’t help anyone.
Sometimes our grandparents can cause tension through more innocent behavior, such as being lax when it comes to rules like bedtime or snack time.
While a spoiled child usually has problems later in life, the kind of spoiling that grandparents do is typically harmless. In fact, sneaking us that extra piece of Halloween candy or letting us stay up a little later to watch our favorite movie can create even deeper bonds.
In the best-case scenario, grandparents can help hold together entire families. Their stability, presence, and tolerance can lessen stress and provide comfort. They don’t even need to be related to us by blood to do most of these things.
Of course, our grandparents also have a lot of experience and have seen and been through more than anyone else in the family. That can provide some much-needed perspective on issues close to home and far away.
Again, not all grandparents are capable of giving us the perspective we need – and some are relics of a time when things were very different. But grandparents also don’t have to be perfect in order to be a welcome and wonderful addition to family life.
So, how about your grandparents? They might live down the street or perhaps they’ve been gone for decades, but chances are you have some memories of them.