Growing up, I was always slightly envious of my peers who were lucky enough to have their grandparents in their lives. Growing up, the only grandparent that I have memories of was my paternal grandmother and since she passed away when I was a 11 yrs. old, my time spent with her were limited. Unfortunately, my paternal grandfather died before I was born. My maternal grandfather passed away when I was a toddler and my maternal grandmother lived in California so our interaction with each other was pretty scarce.
However, when I see my mom interact with my nephew (her grandson), the love that they have for one another is pretty evident. It’s also very apparent that she plays a important role in his life.
A recent study conducted by the Legacy Project shows children need four to six involved, caring adults to fully develop emotionally and socially. That doesn’t mean that your development is stunted if you don’t have this element in your life but it definitely plays a major role in the person you turn out to be. In a world where everyone is committed towards raising their own children and village has bowed out the race, Grandparents can play a vital role in today’s families.
Relationships between generations benefit everyone. Children get a better sense of who they are and where they’ve come from, have higher self-esteem, even better grades in school.
One of my favorite songs is ‘Better People’ by India Arie. In the song she sings:
If Old People would talk to Young People, it would make us Better People, all around
This simple message holds so much truth so how do we make this happen? Legacy Project Chair and intergenerational educator Susan V. Bosak offers these ideas to bring generations closer:
- Sharing bits of your life story over time can help grandchildren get to know you. If you don’t know where or how to start, the Legacy Project website has a free downloadable Fill-in-the-Blanks Life Story and a Generations Scrapbook.
- Prompt informal family storytelling with a game of Did You Ever…? Children and adults can share stories and compare memories from different times. For example, did you ever go on a boat, sleep in a cabin or tent, act in a play, stay in a fancy hotel?
- Grandchildren can interview grandparents – there’s even a list of evocative questions on the Legacy Project website. Then, grandchildren can enter the annual Listen to a Life Contest. The Grand Prize is a Lenovo ThinkCentre computer. One 8-year-old winner from last year commented that “for five years I’ve lived next door to my grandfather, but never took the time to get to know him as well as I did over a weekend when I interviewed him for the contest. He taught me about life, my heritage, and himself.”