A Secret Weapon for Connection with Your Grandkids
Did you read about my grandparenting vision statement? One of my core beliefs is that my purpose is to teach my grandchildren to explore the world. This can be hard as a long-distance grandparent, especially during a pandemic. I’d love to regularly take them on trips around their town—or mine (or anyone’s really!). I’d like to point out the constellations, show them the difference between a lake and an ocean, and tell them about all the places we’ve lived. I wish we could sit down with maps and make plans for where to explore next. Unfortunately, that’s not something that can happen as regularly as I’d like.
So recently, I sent a box full of ways for them to plan and explore the world from their house. How will this foster connection? Knowing where you are in the world, and where the people you love are, helps make sense of the universe. It creates a framework for conversations, and a springboard for future plans. Plus, it shows them that I value exploration, while giving them something new to learn and do!
Here’s what I included:
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I also sent maps: this set of United States, world and solar system maps, and a local street map of their city so they could find where they lived. They were a big hit, as was this compass!
And finally, I sent materials to make their own maps: some graph paper and colored pencils. My grandson worked hard on his map of his house and yard, but you'll have to follow me on Instagram to see the exciting backyard he designed!
A strong relationship with your grandchildren deserves thoughtful planning.
As I shared in the January newsletter, having a grandparent vision statement allows us to commit to the relationship with our grandchildren in an intentional, meaningful way. It reminds us of what we really hold important, and acts as a starting point for creating the relationship we want. It allows us to move past the idea of “spoiling” our grandchildren to a place of true connection.
Over the last couple of weeks, I shared some tips on how to write your vision statement and talked about the importance of sharing it with your grandchildren’s parents. Now I want to talk about how to actually achieve the goals you set in your vision. As Antoine de Saint Exupery said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” It’s time to make that plan.
The next step is sharing your vision statement with parents.
Have you written your grandparent vision statement? Last week, we talked about why that’s an important first step in committing to your role as a grandparent. The next step is both simple and, for some, difficult: sharing your vision with your grandchild’s parents. The easy part is this: once you’ve got your vision written down, send them an email with the details. In that email, or in a follow up conversation, explain why you wrote it and what it means to you. That might be the hard part for you—because it may feel as if you are sharing something personal. But it is incredibly important to share it, for more than one reason.
Sharing shows you value your role as part of a team.
Too often, parents feel cast aside once they provide you with a grandchild. It’s hard for many of us to lift our focus from the enchanting being that has entered our lives! By sharing your vision statement with them, you let parents know that you value your relationship to them in their role as parents. It shows that you recognize that they are the key to realizing your goals as a grandparent, and sets the groundwork for a relationship based on mutual respect.
How to plan for a glorious grandparent journey
Have you ever planned a vacation?
Whether you are the type of person who likes to map out your days in detail, or prefer a loose itinerary with plenty of room for improvisation, you still need to decide a couple of things in advance: where you are going and how you are going to get there. Without those crucial bits of planning, you run the risk of never getting anywhere worthwhile.
Your journey as a grandparent is no different. Sure, you can just ride along and see where it takes you, but if you truly want to foster a strong, lasting bond with your grandchildren, it takes planning and preparation. Neither of these things is hard, especially when the result is so rewarding.
What does planning for your grandparent journey look like? It starts with a vision statement. This affirmation should describe how you hope to impact your grandchildren and family. Think of it as a way to write out your goals and hopes for the kind of grandparent you want to be. The business world has some guidelines about the proper form and wording, (one of my communications clients spent weeks fighting amongst themselves over whether or not a vision statement had to start with the word “to”), but your grandparent vision statement can take any form that feels right to you. Aim for short, simple, and specific, but don’t get bogged down trying to make it beautiful.