It’s a big thing that we see less and less of each day, respecting your elders. It’s ever since I became a father that I’ve realized that I may have been a bit of a difficult child, and although every child has their moments, I realized there were times when I never respected my elders. You read in the news about teenagers and knife crime, and while it’s easy to tar a whole group of people with the same brush, surely those kids’ parents did their best, right? But it made me think, that as someone who wants their children to have a strong relationship with their grandparents, what can I do to make it a more organic process, instead of just telling my kids that they “must” hang out with their grandparents?
You can’t expect your children to treat their grandparents with the level of respect you want if you don’t do the same. Lead by example and show your children the importance of politeness and respect, and this can filter down into things like holding doors open for people. Constantly encouraging the same moral values that you would give to people (please and thank you, etc.) isn’t worth a dime if you don’t do it yourself.
The great thing about grandparents and great-grandparents is the stories that they can tell about the olden days. Your kids may head out on battlefield trips with their school which gives a detailed and educational account of the war, but can a book tell you exactly what it was like, such as the sights, sounds, and smells of war? So the next time you see the children’s grandparents, you can ask them to tell a great little story to pique the kids’ interest. It will likely become a regular feature and a great way for your child and their grandparents to bond.
Visiting the grandparents should be something that the children should look forward to, not dread. So by starting off with regular visits when the children are very young, it will be something they come to expect. And they will certainly miss the routine if it is not there. I know many people that would go on a day out and visit their grandparents when they were kids every Sunday, and it became a wonderful part of their weekend. Making it a habit that is hard to break is the important factor for establishing respect and a loving relationship.
It can be easy to reprimand a child for speaking out of turn, but based on my experience, the grandparents will state that it wasn’t very nice. If you raise your voice or make your child feel bad for what they’ve done, this can put a dent in the relationship between the child and grandparent. Likewise, if your child has made a valiant effort in being nice and helpful, then they should be rewarded and praised for this. It isn’t something that happens overnight, but it is a relationship that is pivotal to a child’s development.