Showing love for your grandchildren shouldn’t replace showing love for your children.
Deep. Endless. Blissful. Magical.
These are some of the words grandparents used to describe their love for their grandchildren. If you are a grandparent, you know even these words don’t capture how you feel about the little people you’ve been blessed with. They have changed your life for the better. They are teaching you a whole new kind of love, and you are finding a myriad of ways to show them how much they mean to you.
You plan your time together to make sure it’s centered on them. You take pains to know which superhero they love and which foods are their favorites. Whether it’s making silly faces together or playing games over video chat, care packages you send filled with activities or taking them for ice cream (with sprinkles!), you want to make sure they know you think the world of them, and that you are thinking about them often.
These aren’t selfless acts—the joy this brings us is immense. Each smile, each “I love you!”, each “That’s my favorite!” fills our hearts and souls in a way almost nothing else can. The love they offer is so uncomplicated! The payoff for each small thing we do seems completely out of proportion for the effort we extend.
But are you forgetting something? Or rather, someone?
Too often, we are so focused on the delight that loving our grandchildren brings that we shift all of our attention to them. In doing so, we neglect an equally important relationship: the one with their parents. Even though they are now adults in charge of their own family, they still need the love only you can give them. Parenting is hard from day one, and parents need all the emotional support they can get. If you have any memories of your own days as a young parent, you probably remember the exhaustion, uncertainty and regular overwhelm that were part of your days. Wouldn’t an occasional reminder that your parents loved you have been welcome? Even more so if it came from your in-laws!
Make it a regular part of your grandparenting efforts to show your children how much you love them. Send them a card out of the blue, or arrive with a special surprise for them. Spend time talking to them about something other than the grandchildren. Ask them about their current favorites! Probably not their favorite superhero, but their latest favorite Netflix show or recipe or book they’ve read. Like your grandchildren, it only takes a little effort to make sure they know you love them, too.
The payoff probably won’t be in the form of spontaneous hugs and radiant smiles, but it will be even more important: you’ll have a stronger relationship with your children. This can only make the bonds with your grandchildren even stronger. And isn’t that what all that love is for?