Letters to grandchildren are a fun, meaningful way to connect generations and spread joy. Find out how to send fun letters to grandchildren with our answer to “What should I write to my grandchild?”
Want a guaranteed way to make your grandchild’s day? No matter if they are 2 or 20, the answer is the same: the best way to deliver unexpected joy is by sending them a letter in the mail. Whether you live far away from your grandchildren or just across town, your grandchild will be delighted to receive a letter from you. What’s more, letters from grandparents to grandchildren are a powerful way to share your memories, values and love.
Sending Love in the Mail
Nothing says “I love you” like a letter in the mail! Grandparents’ letters to grandchildren are an amazing way to create a strong and lasting bond, even before your grandkids are able to talk. Letters are tangible proof that you are thinking of your grandchild, and a way to express your love and support. Stories, memories and details from your life will engage and entertain your grandkids.
In addition to being a way to keep in touch, letter writing can also be a valuable educational opportunity for grandchildren. Letters can help grandchildren learn about family history and experiences, and can also help them improve their reading and writing skills.
There is simply no better way to link generations than regularly writing letters to a grandchild!
What Should I Write to My Grandchild?
Do you struggle with what to write in a letter to your grandchild? You aren’t alone. “Letters to my grandchild prompts” is one of the most-googled phrases in the grandparent world! No matter how much (or little) you like to write, when you are faced with a blank page it can be hard to know what you should write to your grandchildren. It can be especially hard when your grandchild is too young to respond. You sometimes feel as if you are writing into a void!
We’ve got the answer: Grandparent Love Letters. These beautifully designed PDF’s will delight your grandchild and create a written record of the memories you want to share. This set of twelve printable letter templates makes it easy to write a monthly letter to your grands that will foster connection and spread joy.
Every month has an overall theme and some prompts to help you share your stories. These prompts are just starting points, so there’s also plenty of room to write about whatever you have on your mind. If your grandchild is old enough, you can print and send a second copy for them to fill in and return to you. And if you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope, you increase your odds of getting a letter back from your grandchild!
So if you’ve ever asked, “What should I write to my grandchild?”, pop over to our shop and grab your Grandparent Love Letters so you can start sending love through the mail. For just $9.99, you can make 2023 the year you shower your grandchild with love every month.
Click here to visit the shop now.
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When my older sister and I were first married (we got married the same year), my father announced that we could spend every other Christmas with our in-laws, but that we would coordinate with one another so he could have everyone home on alternate years. He loved nothing more than gathering all of his children around him—though we joked that he liked it best when we were all gathered around making no noise and no mess.
My father was known for his mandates, so it was no surprise that he didn’t consult with us to find out what we might like to do. And to be perfectly honest, I found it made things easier: my husband and I knew that on even-numbered years we could make our own decisions, and that on odd-numbered years we would be gathering with my parents and my siblings. As the rest of the siblings married, they fell in line with the every-other-year trip home for Christmas.
The family eventually grew to include 17 grandchildren, and the celebrations grew right along with it. Even after my father passed away, Christmas at my parents’ house continued. Now that the grandchildren are getting married and having children, there’s a further layer of conflicting obligations. Still even without being told we have to be there, we almost all make it every other year.
Few new parents today would be open to having their holiday plans dictated the way mine were, but that was a different time. Parents today are comfortable setting boundaries and sticking to what works best for their families.
There are myriad reasons for a new family to want to make their own holiday plans. Some may not want to travel for reasons of health or sanity. Others may want to start their own traditions, in their own home. Some may want to shield their kids from Uncle Jerry’s annual drunken tirades, which the adults have all learned to tune out.
Unfortunately, many grandparents still want to operate like my father. Their expectations for the holidays hinge on what they want, and they become hurt or disappointed when their adult children reveal their own priorities for where and how they celebrate.
If you are disappointed that you won’t be with your grandchildren this holiday season, that’s normal. It’s what you do with those feelings that will set the tone for future holidays.
Disappointment is a result of your own expectations being unmet. It’s not because of what someone else is (or isn’t) doing, it’s because you had hoped they’d do something else. You have no control over what someone else says or does, only what you say and do. To avoid disappointment in the future, you have to share your expectations, and then adjust them if necessary. (See our Grandparent’s Guide to Happy Holidays for help with this.)
Family events are complicated because everyone has expectations, and it’s impossible to meet them all. That’s why it’s vital to share your hopes early on, and find out what everyone else is hoping for, too.
For now, though, here are some do’s and don’ts if you are disappointed about the holidays this year.
My father was very clear with his expectations. Whether they were met or not, he didn’t make me feel responsible for his happiness. While I try not to be the dictator he sometimes was, I owe much of my success as a grandparent to him. Like him, I try to communicate my expectations to the people involved. I also recognize that they aren’t responsible for realizing those expectations.
Most important, I have let my children and grandchildren know there is nothing I love more than having them all gathered around me—and I don’t even mind the noise and mess.
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Need ideas for toys to keep for grandchildren, or games and activities to do at home with grandchildren? Read on for lots of ideas for entertaining your grandchildren when they visit!
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Some grandparents can fully enter into the world of a child and play with their grandchildren for hours. I’m not one of them, I fear. I need to have a variety of toys and activities to keep my grandchildren busy when they are at my house, but I also want to minimize the mess! This means carefully considering what I keep to entertain them.
Whether the grandchildren are coming for a visit, or you are caring for your grands regularly in your home, you may also be faced with this question: How do I entertain my grandchild when they come to my house? We’ve come up with some sure-fire ways to make Grandma and Grandpa's house a special place to be.
Activities to entertain grandchildren at Grandma’s house
You’ll be surprised by how many things a child-free home has that will entertain your grandchild. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Cindy waited for years to become a grandmother, and it finally happened last May. She finally understood what her friends had been talking about when they said being a grandparent was the best thing ever: Her grandson was the light and love of her life.
But unlike many of her friends, Cindy didn’t get the one-on-one time with her grandson that she’d hoped for. Her offers to babysit were ignored or politely declined. She’d never had a close relationship with the baby’s mother, and the arrival of the baby didn’t magically change that. She could tell her daughter-in-law didn’t trust her with the baby.
It was doubly hard when she found out that the other grandmother, her daughter-in-law’s mother, was babysitting every week. Cindy was worried she’d never have the special relationship with her grandson that she dreamed of.
While we may never know why Cindy wasn’t trusted by her daughter-in-law, we have seen some issues that are cited over and over on parenting forums. If you are wondering why parents won’t trust you with their baby, read on and make sure you haven’t ignored these foundations for being a trusted grandparent.
Commit to safety
For some parents, leaving their baby with anyone else is frightening. They need extra assurance that you will keep their baby safe in their absence. Let them know you have read up on current baby care and safety, and take the steps necessary to make your home a safe place. (The Baby Care & Safety section of New Grandparent Essentials has everything you need to know in one resource—you can get it here.)
Make sure you are prepared for emergencies. Take an infant child CPR class & a choking class. While these classes are valuable to all grandparents, they are vital to any grandparent who will be caring for their grandchild. Also, have Poison Control programmed into your phone. In fact, grab your phone and do that right now: 1-800-222-1222.
Another aspect of safety is more personal. If you are a smoker, use drugs, or drink heavily, parents will likely be hesitant to place their baby in your care. Perception here matters: you may not think that bottle of wine you have with dinner counts as drinking heavily, but parents might.
Be physically able
Many parents are hesitant to leave their baby with a grandparent who has physical limitations. That’s one of the reasons we encourage grandparents to focus on their own health and fitness. If you haven’t made staying fit a priority in your life, there’s no better reason than a grandbaby. Work with your health care provider to develop a program that will give you the strength, endurance and flexibility you will need.
For grandparents who have limitations that lifestyle choices can’t change, you may need to work with parents to create a plan to keep those limitations from affecting your ability to care for the baby.
Know your role
It’s important to parents that anyone who takes care of their baby will respect their parenting decisions. For grandparents, this means recognizing that they may do things differently (even wrong, in your opinion!), but that your job is to support their choices. Hopefully, you’ve set the stage for this by asking questions and listening openly to their answers. Think of yourself as a student of this new family, and work to learn all you can about their needs and limits. Parents will only trust you if they know that you respect their boundaries.
Find out exactly which questions to ask and how to ask them in Partnering with Parents, one of the cornerstones of New Grandparent Essentials.
Doing these three things will go a long way towards showing parents that you understand the privilege of caring for your grandchild. Still, grandparents must understand that even these steps may not be enough for some parents—and that’s their privilege.
But don’t worry. While some grandparents crave one-on-one time with their grandbaby, it certainly isn’t a requirement for a close relationship. If you aren’t able to care for your grandbaby, you’ll find many other ways to become a special person in his or her life.
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Sharing stories is one of the most important things grandparents can do. But should you share your stories of being a new parent?
Do you remember when you were expecting your first baby? I sure do. I was the first of my friends to get married, and the first to have children. Thanks to having a gaggle of younger siblings, I knew a lot about how to take care of babies, but I didn’t know much about pregnancy and birth.
Here’s what was available to me as I tried to educate myself for the coming months: I went to the local book store and bought What to Expect When You’re Expecting. I took the hospital’s Lamaze classes. I talked to the only woman I knew in town who had given birth, my hairdresser. (She gave me the most descriptive warnings about what to expect!)
I wish I’d had a circle of wise, experienced mothers to share their experiences with me. Parents-to-be today can find such support in online groups and blogs, as well as community organizations. There is a wealth of information and experience out there now, just a quick Google search away.
Why you should share your stories
So with all the advice and expertise today’s parents have available to them, why should grandparents-to-be share their own experiences with their daughters and daughters-in-law? Because it can help your adult children understand that you recognize them as adults, and that you want to forge a new relationship with them as they become parents.
Sharing your own stories of birth and the early days of parenting can help parents-to-be know you have been through the same things they are going through. It can help them understand where you are coming from when you help them after the baby is born. It can be an opening to valuable conversations about the choices they are making, and concerns they may have. These conversations can build connection and trust with new parents.
Sharing stories about how you fed your newborn can also be helpful. What do you wish you had known? Remember that you will have biases based on the choices you made and the experience you had, and that those biases may influence what you want to share. To help combat that, encourage parents-to-be to take a prenatal feeding class like those offered by Like a Sister Support. (You can even gift one to them!)
What not to share
When you share stories about birth experiences with a first-time mom, you must always consider your words carefully. This isn’t the time for dramatic narratives about pain, or stories about things that went wrong. While you don’t need to sugar-coat your own experiences, it’s important to focus on information that will be helpful. Did you use a doctor or midwife? Where did you give birth and what did you like or dislike about it? What options did you have during labor and which ones were useful to you? Did you try different methods of feeding?
Never share without first asking the parents-to-be if they are interested in hearing your stories. The answer may be no! If you are respectful of their decisions, they may change their mind.
Instead, ask them questions about what they plan and where they are getting their information. By showing that you are eager to listen to them, you’ll plant the seeds for healthy communication and boundaries.
(Our digital guide, Partnering with Parents, includes a scripted dialog to help you navigate those boundaries and create relationship based on trust and support. You can get it as part of New Grandparent Essentials, or as a stand-alone guide here.)
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Find out why it can be a huge problem when grandparents give too many gifts, what you can do instead, and why you might want to cut back on your own gift-giving this year.
When grandparents give too many gifts, it is nearly always to show their love for their grandchildren. Gifts show how much we value our grandchildren, and how much we want to delight them. It’s hard to consider that those motivations can result in problems.
But there are several valid reasons for parents to try to limit gifts from grandparents. These aren’t just small problems for the parents. They can be big ones, and they can also affect the children and grandparents themselves. Here are 10 reasons that you should consider cutting back on gifts to your grandchildren.
How overindulgent grandparents cause trouble for grandkids
#1 Too many toys=less imaginative play
Are you buying toys because you think your grandchild will enjoy valuable playtime with them? You might want to think again: Research is pretty convincing that having fewer toys leads to better quality play in children. With fewer toys to choose from, children interact with the toys in more creative ways and play with them for longer. This sustained play leads to all sorts of positive outcomes, from motor skill development to better problem solving. In other words, having more toys actually hinders play.
#2 Do too many gifts spoil a child?
There’s a scene in the first Harry Potter book where the dreadful Dudley Dursley is counting the gifts he received on his birthday. "Thirty-six. That's two less than last year!" While this is a fictional exaggeration, many grandparents are creating similar expectations in their grandchildren. If you rush to make sure they have everything they could possibly desire, they will grow up with the assumption that they deserve everything they want. Eventually, life will teach them otherwise, and it will be a hard lesson. It’s much kinder to keep them from having to learn that lesson by not over-indulging them from the start.
#3 Creating negative habits
Another negative effect of too much stuff is the impact it can have on your grandchild’s consumer habits. When a child becomes accustomed to having an abundance of things, they will consider that the norm. When they are first supporting themselves, they may feel deprived if that abundance isn’t possible, or they may develop negative spending habits to fill that sense of need. Again, you can set them up for future success by limiting what you buy them now.
Our grandchildren are being raised differently. Does this mean we were bad parents?
Do you know who your adult children’s favorite parenting expert is? While many grandparents would like to think that they are the one their kids rely on for advice on childrearing, more and more often that isn’t true. When we were raising our kids, we tended to parent either as we had been raised—or as far from that as possible! We had very few experts to choose from: T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Spock and Penelope Leach are the only ones I can think of! (If you have any more, drop them in the comments!)
Thanks to the wonders of modern communication, parents today have a wide range of experts and parent influencers to lean on for advice about the best way to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. This means that there’s a good chance that the way your grandchildren are being raised is different from the way you raised your kids.
The reason these methods are growing in popularity is that they are based on more recent research, not because what we did was “wrong”. As grandparents, understanding the “new ways” allows us to better support our children’s parenting journey, and helps us appreciate that our own parenting is not being judged.
The New Ways of Parenting
What are those new ways? There are several, but labels include gentle parenting, peaceful parenting, conscious parenting and unconditional parenting. This post isn’t going to go into details about each method’s gurus and differences, but instead focus on what they have in common.
All of these are evidence-based philosophies for fostering the qualities you want in your child by being compassionate and enforcing consistent boundaries. Instead of focusing on children’s behavior, parents focus on their emotions and helping children to learn to regulate themselves. The idea is that by being gentle when a child is angry, frustrated, or acting out, parents are modeling tolerance and flexibility and teaching them how to be well-adjusted humans.
This doesn’t mean that bad behavior is ignored. One of the common tenets is that while all feelings are acceptable, not all behaviors are. For example, if a toddler grabs a toy from their baby brother, instead of sternly telling them they can’t play with that right now, a gentle approach would be to say, “I know it’s hard when someone else is playing with something you want. You’ll be able to play with the car when Robbie’s done with it. Would you like to draw a picture while you wait?” You’d still enforce the rule of “No Grabbing”, but your response shows you understand your child’s feelings and you are modeling how to handle difficult situations, which will give them the emotional resilience they’ll need as they grow.
Today's post was written by Emily Morgan, host of the The Grand Life: Wholehearted Grandparenting podcast.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Becky Kennedy, author of parenting guide Good Inside, seems to have struck a nerve with a whole generation of millennial parents. Although she’s not the first to prescribe something generally known as Gentle Parenting, she is one of its most popular proponents. The premise, that every child is good inside and that we must treat them with the respect they deserve, triggers the grandparenting baby-boomer generation in a particular way, especially if we were reared and then reared our own children with an authoritarian bent.
The old adages “do as I say,” and “because I told you to” just don't cut it with Kennedy. Nor does it fly with her over one million followers on social media who quote her like the Bible and refer to her simply as Dr. Becky. “Underneath bad behavior is a good child,” she writes. That philosophy would not have flown in my own upbringing either.
I was born into a Baptist home and, consequently, into a belief system that supported the biblical notion that my sin nature (original sin) existed in me from the beginning. As Psalm 51:5 of the Bible states, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” I didn’t stand a chance of being considered good inside. Guilt was my friend from day one, and it was assumed that when I said something that sounded wrong, I was probably lying. When I questioned any authority, especially a parent, I was considered rebellious. I learned early on that my heart was really not to be trusted to do the right thing, say the right thing, or have pure motives about much.
I was born a Baptist, yes, but as an adult I no longer embrace those doctrines. However, pushing aside the feelings that I still get when I do something as a 60-year-old that was considered “bad” in my upbringing—drinking a glass of wine, going to an R-rated movie—those actions often evoke a cascade of guilt. It’s hard to rebel. Just ask an Amish kid during Rumspringa. For much of my life, my worth was predicated on how much of who I am could be emptied out and replaced with a righteousness that I didn’t naturally possess. If I left those doctrines behind, who was I really?
Dr. Becky actually addresses this deep-rooted shame and guilt when she explains that the early years matter. “Even if kids can’t remember with their words, they can—and do—remember with something more powerful: their bodies. Before they can talk, children learn, based on interactions with their parents, what feels acceptable or shameful, manageable or overwhelming. In this way, our “memories” from early childhood are in fact more powerful than the memories we form in our later years; the way parents interact with kids in their early years form the blueprint they take with them into the world.”