Praise... don’t criticize. Lots of kids today get more than their share of criticism. Social media makes it far more difficult to get away from the judgement of others. As a grandparent, it is your job to help your grandchildren feel good about themselves. Try to praise them as much as possible. Find positive things to say to boost their confidence. If you have advice you think will be of benefit, offer it in a constructive way that doesn’t come across as being critical.
Don’t “play favorites.” If you are lucky enough to have more than one grandchild, do not show any favoritism. Of course, you may have more in common with one grandchild than you do with another. Or you may get to spend more time with one, which makes it easier to bond more deeply with that child. But get to know each child as an individual and look for that “something special” in each child. If possible, try to spend some quality one-on-one time with each grandchild and never let distance stand in the way. If you do not live near a grandchild, you can take advantage of all the new technology that makes it possible to be face-to-face with someone when you can’t be there in person. You can also text, email, or speak on the phone. You can write letters and send cards as well, which might be a special treat since most people don’t get much mail these days.
Spoil your grandchildren a little. “Spoiling” has a bad rap, but a little spoiling can make sure someone feels special. The great thing about being somebody’s grandfather is that you are not the child’s parent. You get to be the gravy or dessert in their lives. So you get to spoil them a little. That doesn’t mean showering your grandchildren with expensive gifts. It can mean far less tangible things like letting them stay up just a bit later than their usual bedtime or playing a game with them when nobody else is interested. It can be telling your grandchildren how special they are… how much fun they are… how smart they are… etc. Of course, an unexpected treat or gift here or there can also be fun for you both.
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Spend time with your grandchildren. Men are living longer and staying healthier for longer than ever before. Whether you are still working or retired, make time for your grandchildren. They will energize you and make you feel younger. You don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary. Just play a game of cards, horse shoes, or catch. Read a book to them, take a walk in the woods, or just sit and talk.
Share your memories and interests. As a grandfather, you are your grandchildren’s connection to the past. Most grandchildren enjoy hearing stories about how things used to be and how things have changed over time, both within the family and in the world in general. Tell them about your life, experiences, and observations over the years. You have lots to share. You can also introduce children to your hobbies and interests. Maybe you enjoy fishing or golf. Maybe you are a history buff or love music. You could be opening up a world to your grandchildren that they would otherwise miss out on.
Let grandchildren teach you. Children are smart human beings, and they have a lot of knowledge to share, especially when it comes to the latest and greatest technologies. Even if you think you are up on things like smart phones, social media, and all the rest, there’s probably a lot more to learn. Don’t miss all the knowledge and guidance your grandchildren have to offer. Ask for help and advice. If a grandchild is especially interested in a particular topic or activity, show you are interested in finding out more about it. Your grandchildren will feel important to be able to teach you something new. Let them show off a little and take pride in being the teacher.
Just plain love your grandchildren. The love of an adult other than a parent can have a deep and lasting positive impact on a child. Let your grandchildren know how much you love them and that you will always love them… no matter what. Give out hugs and kisses for no reason other than to show how much you care. Share a smile or wink across a room of people.
You’re a grandfather. Congratulations! You are lucky… and so are your grandchildren. The bond between a grandfather and his grandchildren is special on both sides of the relationship.
You get to see yourself through the eyes of a child who loves you unconditionally just because you are you… “Grandpa.” To your grandchildren, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living, how much money you have or don’t have, how smart you are, how strong you are, or anything else as long as you are loving and caring with them.
And your grandchildren get to have an adult in their life who loves them unconditionally, wants them to be happy, enjoys being with them, has fun with them, believes in them, teaches them, respects them, and thinks they are the most special human beings on earth.
There are lots of ways to build a strong bond with your grandchildren. Here are a few pointers from some experienced grandfathers who love the role!