Written by Dr. Joannie DeBrito, Family Support Specialist
Last month, I shared a post about the importance of grandparents teaching their grandchildren LOVE AND JOY via their words and actions. The summer months also provide ample opportunities for you to be an integral part of your grandchildren’s lives, as well.
You can use your life experiences to help your family develop the PEACE AND PATIENCE that is seen throughout Scripture in the life of Jesus.
While some people seem to be born with an extra dose of both, more people find peace and patience to be acquired skills. We learn, through a healthy process of coping with unmet expectations and failures, to either be at peace with the outcome or to keep trying and wait for satisfaction and success.
With your years of experience setting the foundation for building peace and patience, you can be ready to show your grandchildren how to enjoy their summers, free from restlessness.
They bound out of school, looking forward to time off from homework, freedom from the routine of school and lots of play time. We all know how quickly that enthusiasm can wear off.
Several weeks into the summer schedule, you hear your grandkids saying, “I’m bored” or “Do I really have to help out with yard work?” or “I can’t find anyone to hang out with.”
And do you remember that old saying: “Familiarity breeds contempt?” Well, those siblings that got along pretty well for a few hours a day are now finding all kinds of things to argue about since they’re together more now. Grandkids are also challenging Mom and Dad over things they didn’t have time to be concerned about during the school year.
Grandparents, this is a great time to model a peaceful, patient approach to life.
Ideas for Younger Ages
With very young children, take the time to sit with them, rock them, stroke them, cuddle with them, and talk quietly to them. When they are crying or restless, make the space around them darker and quieter and rub their backs.
Your calming presence will teach them how satisfying it is to feel peaceful, and from your example, they will learn some things they can do to settle themselves when they are alone.
Grandfathers, you can also help your grandkids learn that men in their lives can be as comforting as women.
As they get older and are trying to master new skills, they will need to develop patience with themselves. Give them one or two-step instructions for mastering skills so they don’t get overwhelmed.
As they succeed, give them lots of encouragement to keep going. When they fail, offer a simple word of comfort and challenge them to try again.
Your grandchildren will mirror your responses so if you give them equal doses of empathy and gentle pushes, they will start to learn patience.
Ideas for Elementary Ages
8-12 year-olds are beginning to get into a lot of competitive situations- sports, games, spelling bees, music contests, etc.- and men tend to be more competitive than women. (This has been shown to be true in numerous research studies)
So, grandfathers are in a great position to teach developing kids how to compete and peacefully resolve conflicts by using their words rather than their bodies to make their positions clear.
Grandparents can also help their kids develop patience with themselves and others when competing. One great thing you can tell a child about competition is “You either win or you learn.”
You can make losing a positive experience by helping your grandchildren look at a loss as an opportunity to learn what to do different the next time he or she competes. Share your stories of defeat and what you learned.
Ideas for Teenagers/Young Adults
If you are the grandparent of a teenager or young adult, I encourage you to reinforce the concept that peace and patience come from within and can be experienced, regardless of what is going on in one’s life.
Inner peace comes from reliance on God and giving up control, of the things we can’t control, to God.
At this time in life, kids begin to feel very anxious about the many choices they need to make as they move forward in life. The world has a way of heaping a lot of pressure on teens to have their futures figured out by the time they reach the ripe old age of 21.
Let your grandchildren know that they’ve got plenty of time to make decisions, and they can choose to be controlled by the pressures of the world and the anxiety those pressures cause or allow God to guide them and bring a sense of peace and patience.
Teens and young adults are often open to these kinds of discussions if they come up spontaneously while you’re doing something active with them- a conversation while preparing dinner over a campfire, while stopping for ice cream after a hike, or online when your grandchild is sharing a video about a recent family trip.
Hopefully you get the idea! Your grandchildren will learn about peace and patience from watching you, modeling after you, and hearing your words of wisdom.