Is there anything better than dropping the kids off at your parent's house for a well-deserved night off? They're happy, your parents are happy, and you are definitely happy. It's a win-win situation for all.
Far from just being reliable, free babysitters, however, grandparents can play a vital role in the upbringing of your children. The role of the grandparent is vastly different from your role as a parent, and to a child it helps complete the circle of a well-rounded life.
So why are grandparents so important? What do they offer that you can't?
Take a minute to think back to your own childhood. How did you feel when you found out you'd be spending the afternoon at Grandma's house? Ecstatically wild with joy? You knew there would be cookies and games and hours of imaginary tea parties. All that time spent at her home would be focused on you, playing whatever you wanted to play. Made you feel pretty special, right?
The reason you were so ecstatic might be because your grandparents had the ability to completely concentrate on you. They didn't have to go to work, or go buy groceries or do laundry or pay bills or do the other 9 million myriad tasks that can eat up any busy mom's day. Grandparents are pure play, and to a child there is nothing better.
It's also important to realize that as your own parents get older they become more like children themselves. Their sense of fun and imagination are coming full circle, and your children especially pick up on that magic and respond in very powerful, positive ways. For them it's like have a best friend, only one who has the ability to drive and buy candy and milkshakes! Grandparents can offer your child experiences that, as a mom, you might not have time to do, like spending an afternoon fishing or a whole day walking through a forest collecting leaves. Of course you play with your child, but sometimes you just can't do it for an entire day, every day. Grandparents can and do help shape your child's memories growing up, and as they grow older those memories become rich with love and experience.
Grandparents also help pass on important family history. How many times has your dad told your son about his experience growing up during World War II or about the student strikes during the Vietnam war? Or how many times has your daughter begged your own mom to recount the tale of when you set the living room rug on fire? Grandparents can weave tales of magic for your kids and pass along family history at the same time. This enables your children to realize that they are part of something bigger than themselves, part of a history that goes back generations. Grandparents can allow your children to discover their roots.
They also can reinforce the values you're trying to teach them. Important characteristics you learned growing up such as honesty, fairness, and integrity had to come from somewhere, right? Grandparents help pass along these important lessons to your children just as they were passed along to you while you were growing up.
As you can see, grandparents can help shape your children in thousands of major and minor ways. They have come full circle in their own lives and now see the world in many ways as a child sees it. That kind of unity and connectedness is something that can't be duplicated anywhere else, just as nothing can replace your role as a parent and the bond you share with your kids. It's a magical relationship that your children will never forget.
Karen Fusco is co-founder of SilkBow.com which supports Busy Moms with free gift ideas and helpful tips to meet the challenges of motherhood. She is also co-founder of WellnessArticles.net , a directory of articles covering many areas of wellness. Karen can be reached directly at: karen@SilkBow.com