Small Business Marketing

The Times

News

Should I take a gift? As borders open, how to prepare for reuniting with your grandkids

  • Written by David Coall, Senior Lecturer, Edith Cowan University
Should I take a gift? As borders open, how to prepare for reuniting with your grandkids

As border restrictions lift, family reunions are being planned around Australia. This is an exciting but also uncertain time, particularly for grandparents who have been separated from grandchildren.

Over the past months (and in some cases, years), grandchildren will have grown and changed. They may have new interests, routines and skills. You may even have the transformative experience[1] of meeting a new grandchild for the very first time.

With older grandchildren, digital technologies[2] may have kept you in contact and up-to-date. But with younger grandchildren, this is harder, and it may be time to rekindle relationships.

We are researchers investigating the roles grandparents play and the influence[3] this has on families and communities. So, how can grandparents make the most of this time?

The special role of grandparents

Due to increased lifespans, grandparents have more time and ability to invest in their grandchildren than ever before[4] in human history.

The grandparent-grandchild relationship can be a very special one. A grandparent’s involvement in a child’s life, whether through shared actives or a listening ear, is linked[5] to the child’s well-being.

Grandparents hug a baby.
Researchers are finding increasing evidence of the importance of grandparent-grandchild relationships. www.shutterstock.com

The benefits depend on your family situation, but can include improved psychological adjustment for grandchildren[6], increased workforce participation[7] for mothers, and a longer and happier life for grandparents[8].

The importance of asking questions

When preparing to see your grandchildren again, our first suggestion is to ask your grandchild’s parents what they think is a good idea for your first catch-up. What does your grandchild enjoy doing at the moment? What is their daily routine? Is there anything to avoid?

If you are meeting a grandchild for the very first time, bear in mind the parents have gone through huge changes since you last met. As with older children, ask the parents what will suit them in terms of visit type and time.

Read more: New research shows how hard it is for 'flying grannies' to care for their Australian grandkids[9]

Be open and honest[10] about what support you think you can provide, and be aware the parents needs may change (they may want more or less help than they anticipated).

When it comes to discussing the changes a new baby has brought, grandparents are trying to juggle in their mind the thrill of participating in their grandchild’s life, without disrupting or overstepping parents’ boundaries. From our yet to be published research, we understand this is not a simple matter for many families, but starting the conversation is important in maintaining these valuable relationships.

Persistent, not pushy

Your grandchildren may be feeling shy when you first meet. So even though this may have been a longed-for reunion, you may need to tread carefully.

This is perfectly normal and can be overwhelming for everyone. Just take your time, and let them get to know you again. Your first instinct will be to catch up on the thousands of lost hugs, but it may work better stay close by and let them come to you.

Grandparents playing with grandkids.
With young children, you don’t have to plan something fancy for your first catch-up. www.shutterstock.com

The good news for grandparents is that several research projects have shown what grandchildren really want[11] is simply for grandparents to be “there when needed”.

So just “being there” – interested and available – for your first visit is perfectly fine. This helps reduce expectations of what you feel you need to do.

Gifts

Your first inclination may be to bring something exciting to play with together. But on top of seeing each other again, rushing in with a new treat might be too much. You will need to read the room.

Consider taking something small, or maybe you can keep something in the car and bring it out once everyone has warmed up.

Parallel play

Play is obviously central to children’s learning and experience. Early in life, however, this may mean playing alone, which may be confusing for some of us.

Read more: Why you shouldn’t force the kids to hug Granny at Christmas[12]

A good way to work with this while rekindling your relationship is parallel play, particularly if a child is aged between two and five. Parallel play involves playing next to your grandchild and letting them come to you when they are ready.

This is one way you might need to put the patience and persistence we discussed earlier into practice.

Let grandchildren lead (within reason)

In the same vein, don’t feel as though you need to take the lead when working out what to do with your grandchild, either. Or that your idea for reading a certain book or doing a particular puzzle is the one your grandchild will go with.

Grandparents push a grandchild on a swing.
Seeing your grandchild again could be as simple as a walk to the park. www.shutterstock.com

Often, seemingly simple activities like a walk to a park are the most rewarding. Here your grandchild has the opportunity to show you about their world and what they like to do on their terms. It is also a good way to see how your grandchild has grown and developed.

We want to show our unconditional affection and love for our grandchildren, this feels natural[13], and we know it can be so valuable.

But in the the early stages of getting to know each other again, don’t put pressure on you or them. Being available, interested, curious and patient is enough.

Rebecca Bullingham, a masters student in medical and health science at Edith Cowan University, contributed to this article.

References

  1. ^ transformative experience (journals.sagepub.com)
  2. ^ digital technologies (theconversation.com)
  3. ^ influence (www.tandfonline.com)
  4. ^ ever before (journals.sagepub.com)
  5. ^ linked (onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
  6. ^ grandchildren (onlinelibrary.wiley.com)
  7. ^ workforce participation (doi.org)
  8. ^ grandparents (www.sciencedirect.com)
  9. ^ New research shows how hard it is for 'flying grannies' to care for their Australian grandkids (theconversation.com)
  10. ^ open and honest (raisingchildren.net.au)
  11. ^ really want (www.hoepflinger.com)
  12. ^ Why you shouldn’t force the kids to hug Granny at Christmas (theconversation.com)
  13. ^ this feels natural (journals.sagepub.com)

Read more https://theconversation.com/should-i-take-a-gift-as-borders-open-how-to-prepare-for-reuniting-with-your-grandkids-169731

Popular

Existing Moles Are Not Responsible For Most Melanomas

The summer is reaching its end and the time has come to put away the sandals, beach gear, and bathing suits. After spending more time out in the sun over...

Women from refugee backgrounds are engaged in the workforce

With today marking the start of Refugee Week, it’s time to celebrate and acknowledge the contributions and impact of refugees on our industries and communities. As part of this, The...

Sigrid Thornton to receive Walk of Fame honour at Slant premiere

Australian screen royalty, Sigrid Thornton will be inducted to the Australian Film Walk of Fame outside the historic Ritz Theatre in Randwick when she attends the Sydney Premiere of her...