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Today's Family Magazine

MOMMY CHRONICLES: Celebrating grandparents

By Stacy Turner

Since 1978, Grandparents Day has been a recognized holiday in the US to take place on the Sunday after Labor Day.  More than just a holiday invented to sell greeting cards, the day was set aside to honor grandparents and older folks who serve that role, and to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance the elder generation can offer.  If you’re lucky enough to have parents or others who play an active role in your kids’ lives, you’ve got plenty of reasons to celebrate this special, lesser-known holiday.  

My own children are blessed to have grandparents who truly delight in them.  Pop Pop, as my kids called him, was always up to play a game, wear a silly hat, savor pretend treats at a tea party, or do whatever activity the girls could dream up. One of my favorite memories is him with them in their tiny plastic pool, taking turns watering and being watered with a kid-sized watering can. Grandma is engaged in their lives, too, riding roller coasters with one of them at Six Flags without pressuring the other one who wasn’t quite ready to put her life at risk, just yet.  She encourages them when they try new sports or activities and cheers them on always, but especially when they face their fears.  Despite her age, she’s always up for FaceTime calls and texts the kids to check in when something big is going on in their lives.  She leads by example that life is meant for living when she went zip-lining a few years ago to celebrate her 75th birthday.

Grandparents are much more than just their grandchild’s biggest cheerleader.  An Oxford study found that grandparents play a high-level role in the emotional and behavioral development of children.  When grandparents are present, children have fewer emotional problems, and they are less likely to be involved in negative behavioral situations. 

Grandparents give so much to their grandkids, why not help kids reciprocate?  It can be as simple as you encouraging your kids to make their grandparents a homemade card.  Older kids can create a coupon book offering thoughtful services they can provide for or with their grandparents, like help with yardwork, reading together, or posing for silly pictures to fill grandma’s phone or brag book. 

If you’re fortunate to have grandparents that live nearby, why not gather ingredients and let kids make a special family recipe with them.  Enjoy a meal together at home or at their favorite restaurant.  If they live out of town, send a care package of special treats.  If your kids are blessed to know the unmerited love of a grandparent or an older person in their lives who fills that role, then let them know by celebrating this special day with them.  No matter what you decide to do, if it’s done with love, all the grandmas and Pop Pops out there will appreciate it.