Who has the time to focus on a child’s emotional and developmental needs? Certainly oftentimes not the parent. Most parents are frazzled, living on the edge of exhaustion and deep into multi-tasking. Parents are of course responsible for all the basics that a child needs. They provide the housing, the trips to the pediatrician, the late night soothing after a bad dream, the trips to the mall for school clothing, and most of the daily needs that children have, such as getting a ride to school, and sitting at the table for dinner.

But who has the time for the magical moment with a child? Who has the time to really listen to what she is saying and even write it down, next to a digital picture of the moment when it was said? Probably not the child’s mom or dad. And who has the time to help her develop the social and intellectual skills she really will need to be a good citizen?

Most likely it will be the grandparent. That is, if you realize how important you are, and you take the time to step up to the plate. It is you who can have the magical moments with your grandchild-find those flowers to press and start the rock collection and sit in the window seat chatting about how it was to grow up long ago. And in grabbing those magical moments you do something else. You will be doing a great service to the next generation. You will be helping them grow in three basic ways that no one else in the world may have the time or patience to attend to. Here they are:

1.You can help her develop her curiosity. Nothing stirs the mind to be curious than someone else so fascinated by a subject that you just have to learn more. You have the time to be fascinated and to pass that feeling along. For example, just learning how to grow tomatoes in a barrel can be interesting and exciting for both you and your grandchild. Or you could have a neighbor that speaks in sign language and be determined to learn some. And that curiosity that you have will rub off on your grandchild. She will be interested in others as she grows up. She will see the world as a multi-faceted marvelous place that you have helped her notice!

2. You can help your grandchild develop her intellect. Whether you live around the corner or thousands of miles away, you can send your grandchild books, interesting articles, puzzles, games, etc. And you can make sure that when you are with her you teach her lots of stuff. You can discuss the news, find countries on the globe, play word and number games, read plays aloud. All is good for developing the mind and expanding the mind so that your grandchild will think beyond her direct environment.

3. You can help your grandchild develop her social skills. You have the time to teach her manners-how to set a table. How to open a door for grown-ups. You can take her out to eat, even if it is at the local diner. And you can teach her how to read a menu, eat with intention and enjoyment, make good conversation as she eats, etc. You can teach her how to ballroom dance. Or maybe square dance. You can take her to meet your friends or to do good needs. She can help you at the local food canteen or socialize with your friends.

And what is the result? Your grand child will grow up to be a fine, caring, knowledgeable person with a desire to help others and be able to socialize with people of all ages. Not a bad accomplishment!

Seven Ways that Grandparents Can Help Their Grandchildren Grow up Strong, Safe and Happy:

1. First of all, stay in touch with your grandchildren, so you have a good baseline on their personalities and development. If you live apart then rely on all the modern world has to offer: e-mailing, phoning and faxing, Skype, home video’s, photographs, shared family blogs and of course snail mail. Not only will you be ready to help if there is something ‘up’ with a grandchild, but you will have such fun communicating and being part of their world.

2. Help each child feel special. For example you could create scrapbooks of special moments for each child on special occasions, such as a milestone birthday. The scrapbook can contain your thoughts and wishes for the child as well as photo’s, special souvenirs saved from times spent together, and even family history. Each scrapbook can be very different, reflecting the needs and interests of a particular child.

3. Whether you see your grand kids every week or every three years, make sure you spend some alone time with each child. It is amazing how differently kids share themselves and even their hopes, dreams and secrets when the other siblings, or parents are not around. If you can’t do much, even a slow walk around the block will lead to good fun and a better knowledge of your grandchild.

4. Now that you have the relationship going well, it is time to become very observant. Do you see any strange or unusual habits developing? Or do you see some social changes? These could include everything from an eye twitch to excessive crying, bullying of a sibling, spending too much alone time in her room, a change in friends that gives you some concerns, or maybe too few friends. It could also include such things as becoming a very picky eater or suddenly putting on a lot of weight.

5. If there are changes as noted above, don’t react with drama or accusations. That is sure to set your own child off, and perhaps close the door to your visits and also, perhaps, perpetuate a bad situation so it will become worse. Rather, talk gently and with care and in private to your child. Perhaps say something like, ” I notice that Janet seems to spend a lot of time a lone this summer. I don’t see Anna belle and Susie come around anymore. I was just curious about this.” And then let your own grown child have some time to respond. She may appear indifferent or she may open up and share her own concerns. Your granddaughter will be best served if follow your own daughter’s lead and see where it goes. It may be painful, as you wish to change everything at once for your granddaughter. Sometimes we can only plant the seed and long after your visit you will find out that your granddaughter is indeed in counseling or working with the school guidance counselor in a peer group for social issues.

6. However, if you see a real crisis, then you have every right as family to be persistent and direct. For example, if you hear your granddaughter throwing up in the bathroom after meals, you should speak with authority (again in private) to your daughter, that she must take your granddaughter in for a medical exam. Eating disorders are real and potentially even fatal. You have a responsibility to react strongly.

Likewise, if you see one of your grand kids bullying and or physically punching, pushing hard, etc. on a younger sibling again and again, talk to your own child seriously. First of all, it is dangerous. Your older grandchild could hurt the younger one both physically and emotionally. Secondly, he could have his own emotion problems that need attention. Lastly, he could be a bully in the making and will also intimidate and hurt other children in the school yard, on the street, in the school hallways, etc.

7. Lastly, remember to share yourself with your grand kids. Just because everyone today has a cell phone, doesn’t mean the kids aren’t fascinated by the fact that your had one phone in your house when you grew up, or that the family of six drivers shared one beat up car or that you got up at 6:00 am for your paper route through town. Maybe you even had a doctor that still made house calls when someone was suddenly ill! It is the richness of your history along with your wisdom and willingness to push for the health and happiness of your grand kids that make you a great grandparent. Don’t give up your assignment! The kids need you!~


Sometimes, as a Grandparent, you may think you are dispensable. You are kidding yourself. Even grandparents that are visited once a year or even less frequently leave a remarkable imprint on a grandchild’s life and have an important role to play. We know some of the reasons why. For one thing, most grandparents give off a sense of love and adoration for the grandchild that few parents have the energy or interest to sustain. Also, grandparents are good at providing extra treats, often coming through with a special gift or the money for a science camp, a trip to Disneyland or some other experience in life that the parents simply can’t or don’t feel obliged to offer. Lastly, grandparents are so interesting. They may live in houses or apartments that feel from another time. For example, they still may have a record player in the closet with a bunch of rock and roll records on the shelf or maybe opera’s. It doesn’t matter, it is just so much not where the child lives every day. And the TV has a giant back to it! There are old pictures on the tables and somewhere in the back of a closet are white leather gloves that great grandma wore on her wedding day!

But even beyond what I am mentioning so far, grandparents have influence that can be critical. Grandparents have that extra pair of eyes that parents have often sacrificed in the line of daily duty and upkeep of the children. By this I mean that they come to the family and the kids, often with fresh eyes. As the newcomer who may not have visited for a week, or a year, they often immediately can tell when something is off. Parents can miss these subtleties. We know that human nature acclimates to an awful lot. A quick test of this innate quality is suddenly looking at pictures of yourself from a couple of years ago. Suddenly a current look in the mirror reflects aging or at least change. On a daily basis we don’t see change.

So when grandma or grandpa come to visit or you visit them and the smell a rat, listen with every fiber in your body.

And grandma, when Abigail slams the door and doesn’t seem quite right, get ready to put on your detective eyeglasses and play sleuth. You may be even instrumental in the saving of your grandchild’s life, or at least her sense of well-being.

You don’t believe me? Well, stay with me and we will discuss Seven Ways that Grandparents Can Help Their Grandchildren Grow up Strong, Safe and Happy!