The idea for this corner was hatched around the dinner table one evening. I was excited by the opportunity to share some ideas and to invite responses from you. This has been a very special time in my life as my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren have moved into my home while we begin the process of building my new home as an extension to what has been our home for thirty-three years. So it is fitting that I have chosen grandparents at my first subject. I’d like you to think about your own grandparents, what was special about them, what you wish you could have done with them, and perhaps some particular occasions that have meant a lot to you.
As a grandparent, the time with grandchildren is unique. It carries none of the obligations or responsibilities of being a parent. It is based on one thing, and one thing only – love. As one gets older, the sense of continuity becomes stronger- continuity with old friends, neighbors, and the continuity of one’s children’s lives. But the continuity with a grandchild carries us into the future beyond where our own lives will one day end. Having just enough distance allows us to appreciate the personalities of our various grandchildren, to bring humor and joy to our encounters, and to treasure special moments of conversation or a warm hug.
Fitting grandparents into our busy daily lives takes extra effort these days. Distance makes our relationships difficult even though email and text-messaging may bridge the miles. How are you keeping your children connected with their grandparents? Please share suggestions so we can all benefit from creative ideas.
1. Go for walks taking time to note the simple things – ants, leaves changing color, a bird flying by, a plant pushing through the cement, etc.
2. Spend time with individual children so you have a chance for conversation.
3. Make things together- craft kits are helpful. One of my favorites is the drum kit (simple and rewarding) or a felting kit.
4. Cook or bake together- cookies, soups, etc. (Pretend Soup or Salad People are great cookbooks to use with children.)
5. Have a tea party (real or pretend).
6. Start traditions of things that you do whenever you visit.
7. Draw together to make cards for family members.
Ideas when grandparents live far away or for times between visits.
1. Send letters or postcards.
2. Have a photo of you with your grandchildren in your house and in theirs.
3. Telephone calls. (Skype is free.) and videophones are fun too.
4. Email them if the children are older.
5. Send little notes with interesting articles or cutouts from the newspaper.
Betty Staley, M.S. in Education, has been an educator for forty years. She is a very experienced and well known Waldorf teacher and world-wide lecturer and a guide to teachers in public schools and working with At-Risk students who wish to adapt Waldorf methodology into their classrooms. The author of five books, she gives workshops on parenting and adolescence in universities, schools, and conferences. Mother of three and grandmother of five, Betty is often sought after for her practical advice as well as her commitment to the deeper understanding of child development. She currently directs the Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program at Rudolf Steiner College and consults with schools throughout the U.S.