Treating your beloved grandchild to a shiny new toy or piece of technology is bound to garner initial squeals of excitement, but does regular gift giving affect how you and your grandchild are able to relate to one another? Breaking from this pattern could prove difficult because you care about your grandchildren so darn much! You just can’t help yours---
Step away from the stuffy.
Providing gifts each time you visit your grandkids sets the bar high for you to deliver. Children come to expect what you’ve established as your normal way of relating to them. If this involves contributing to their Beanie Boo collection each time you visit, of course they will be disappointed when they stop receiving this perk. Standing your ground in front of their sad melty face will be tough, but zoom out from that moment and recognize that any disappointment will be short-lived.
Some grandparents feel it is their duty, or even right, to spoil their grandkids, but more is not always better when establishing meaningful ways of relating to each other. For example, in the excitement of receiving is your grandchild focused on spending time with you or with their new doe-eyed pillow? Might the anticipation of what you will bring them overshadow their ability to view you as the cloud gazing grandma, or boat sailing grandpa? If you only have a few hours together each week or month, perhaps gift giving distracts from the two of you cultivating your own special ways of spending time together.
How you spend time together shapes how you are able to relate to one another and what adventures are possible together. What do you want the doing together part of your relationship to look like?
Let’s take a moment to clarify your intentions and make a plan to reboot the expectations in your relationship. Close your eyes and… No wait, keep reading!
- What does a deeply meaningful day spent with your grandchild look like?
- What sides of one another would this day together allow you to each see?
- What are the stale assumptions in your relationship about how you will spend time together?
- How can you shake these up and defy their expectations of what you are open to as a grandparent?
- What shared interests can you nurture to establish excitement for experiencing the world together?
- How can you show them that despite your adultness, you are game to explore, play and be imagine.
Forget what the other grandparents are doing, or what you gave your grandchild last month. Be the grandparent who arrives at the door with generous amounts of time to imagine and discover. Try to experiment with unique ways of relating to your grandchild that stem from what you learn about one another on your adventures. Grandparenting is an opportunity to be both playmate and mentor. Mud puddle season is almost here - splash it up!
A big thank-you to Carla Fehr for helping me organize my splat-on-paper thoughts for this post.