Many children today not only have grandparents, but also great grandparents. My own grandchildren have three great grandparents who are still involved in their lives. Often it is the grandparent who bridges the gap between the younger and older generation.
My mother, at 95, is very interested in her great grandchildren – even though she only sees them once or twice a year. I make an effort to keep her informed of their activities and achievements and she does well keeping track – often greeting them with “How’s the tennis going?” or “How’s the artwork?”
More challenging is helping the grandkids feel comfortable around my mom. She can’t hear or see well so you need to talk loudly and explain what you’re showing her. To encourage conversation, we have occasionally had the kids write down questions for her; questions about her life. She has a rich past – not only did she have an unusual childhood, but she worked alongside my dad in ministry that took them from one side of the country to the other.
When you’re a 12-year-old boy, listening to a 95-year-old lady reminisce might not seem like an exciting way to spend time, but it is valuable for the grandchildren to hear. We often video these conversations, so the kids will have them later in life when they might be more interested.
My mother has also written down her life history for all of us. My husband’s parents have hundreds of letters they wrote back and forth when my father-in-law was in the service and the kids have permission to read them when we’re at the great-grandparents’ apartment for a visit. We have also videoed conversations with them.
During a recent visit, my father-in-law got out his Morse Code apparatus and demonstrated the skills he learned in World War II. All the years I’ve known him, I didn’t realize he still had the apparatus and I was able to take a video of him using it – which I posted on Facebook for our entire family to see.
Many grandparents today are active and able to enjoy a multitude of activities with their grandkids. But don’t forget the great-grandparents. They’re often tucked away in assisted living complexes without the ability to get around or join in family events. Yet, those great-grandparent/grandchild relationships can be influential. They can provide a unique and valuable legacy.
My grandchildren are privileged in that their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents are all Christians. They have a rich, spiritual heritage. I need to be intentional about helping them communicate with the great-grandparents in a meaningful and memorable way.
Linda is the author of thirteen books, and several hundred short stories and articles. For the past twenty-three years she has worked at Awana as a writer. She is the mom of two grown kids and six keeping-life-interesting grandkids.