All across the globe, people are looking for ways to connect with others. It has become more and more important to improve the relationships we already have, so it may be time to think of ways to strengthen relationships between kids and older adults.
My husband is an OK guy – I am saying this for dramatic effect. However, basically, my husband is great but his parents are amazing. I grew up where situations led my family to not be close – both physically and relationally.
So, when I fell in love with my husband, it wasn’t too long before I fell in love with his family as well. They lived across nations yet made a way to come see my kids once a year for years on end.
They loved my children so much. I appreciated that beyond words, although I wasn’t used to it with my own family. One year, they even came (with a slew of family members) to watch me graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree.
My father-in-law frequently came to America because of work and never skipped a beat when it came to stopping by to visit us.
I didn’t give it much thought to say no when my husband approached me to go live in another country to be closer to them and take care of the family businesses back in his home country.
I knew things were going to be really rough for me, the city girl from New York, moving to a small island country. However, for my children’s sake, I knew it was the right move.
See, I didn’t grow up around grandparents who loved me unconditionally. My grandma who loved us, Abuela Marcella, passed away when I was really young. She loved all the grandkids so much. When she was gone, that was it on my end.
When I saw the love my in-laws had for my kids, I just knew there wasn’t a question about them being able to grow up near them. It was a no-brainer.
No matter what I would go through missing my own country and friends, it was nothing compared to the opportunity. Having my children know and have relationships with their grandparents was worth every bit of the struggle.
I was talking to my daughter recently. She understands sometimes I get really down, but she rubbed my shoulder and told me, “Mom, I know you did this for us and I really appreciate it.”
How I raised such an amazing kid, I don’t know but at 14 she surely did console her mama.
So, how do you strengthen relationships between kids and older adults in their life? MOVE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY. Kidding!
It just so happened that God’s plan for us was to move and be closer to my husband’s parents. However, what does this look like in your own life?
Take a moment to think about what steps you can take to make older adults in your family have quality relationships with your kids.
Check out some of these ways to strengthen relationships between kids and older adults in your family.
1. Kids are fascinated by cool stories. Encourage and allow grandparents time to tell your kids stories and family stories of their history and memories.
Encourage your kids to sit and listen alongside you. Even if the stories are repeated, this time is time you will never get back if you let the opportunity of their storytelling pass you by. NOTE: Record some of the stories if you can. You will NOT regret it.
2. Encourage your children to make thank you or thinking-of-you cards whenever possible.
You may even have great intentions of doing this someday. Try to really do it. Make it a habit. Let the older adults in your family (by blood or in Christ) know that they are loved, appreciated, and thought of.
I Love You because … Grandparents Day Gift | Giggles Galore
FREE Printable Thank you Notes | My Frugal Adventures
DIY Foil Card: Easy and Cute Thank You Cards! (FREE Printables) | Leap of Faith Crafting
3. Bring older adults up to speed – internet speed. Show older adults how to do some technologically savvy things online like Skype or Messenger. Encourage your kids to connect with them through technology. Have your kids send them photos and voice messages to keep the communication going.
4. Intentionally set up common interest dates. Does grandpa like to watch sports? Have your kids join them and encourage them to find out about their interests.
Does grandma love baking? Schedule in some time for the kids to bring over cooking supplies and let grandma teach them how to bake some yummy desserts. They will learn life skills and spend quality bonding time.
5. If your kids don’t have grandparents, have them do some of these activities with elderly people you know closely at church.
17 Fun Crafts to Do With Grandchildren | My Think Big Life
10 Activities Kids Can Do With Grandparents | Our Family World
6. Encourage your kids to serve older adults. When we visit our parents every Sunday, my kids automatically know that we are serving them in however we can for the time.
We do the dishes, sweep, set up the table for lunch/dinner. My son takes out their trash. We talk with our kids about it. We don’t do this because we have to. We make efforts because we love them and we want them to know it by our actions.
The same goes for older adults at church. Have your kids notice if they could use help with taking bags or their Bible to the car (it can be hard to handle doorknobs, Bibles, and canes all at the same time). If we are having a church luncheon, we keep an eye out and get their drinks for the older adults around us. Remind your kids that moving easily from one spot to another isn’t easy for everyone.
7. Invite the older adults to your home for family time. Whether it be dinners or just to spend time, it is important for you to also have a relationship with older adults.
8. Be the example. We can tell our kids what to do to foster relationships with older adults until we are blue in the face. Kids will follow your lead. Make time for older adults in your home. Serve them periodically as well. Run errands for them when you can.
Kids learn by example, so be it for them.
Remember what the Bible says about grandparents and the older and wiser folks. Share these verses with your children as you encourage them to build and nourish these relationships.
Proverbs 17:6 ESV – (Why grandparents love grandchildren so much)
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged . . .
2 Timothy 1:5 ESV (their faith is an example to us)
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.
Titus 2:1-5 ESV –
. . . they teach us what is good . . .
1 Peter 5:5 ESV – (elders are many times put in authority over us-respect them and listen to them)
Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Psalm 92:14 (ESV) – (older adults still bear fruit for the Lord)
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
According to the American Sociological Association (ASA), there are direct, real, and measurable effects on a grandchild and grandparents’ psychological well-being that goes long into a grandchild’s adulthood.
Remember that time flies by faster than we care to admit. If older adults and grandparents in your family love your kids, then foster these loving healthy relationships. In a world full of hatred, foster an environment of healthy relationships and love.
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!