It is very different to be a grandparent than to be a parent. Both have responsibilities and privileges. Both can be fun and rewarding. Both can be overwhelming and a lot of work.
The nice thing about being a grandparent, is you do all of the responsibilities connected to your job because you want to do them. As a parent, there are a lot more “musts” involved in what you have to do.
If you are a grandparent who lives close by your grandchildren, you can be involved in many of the everyday activities. You can be the one who picks up your grandchildren from a play date or after school. You can be the one who babysits when your grandchildren’s parents go out for the day.
As a grandparent your value to your children and grandchildren can be huge. Grandchildren love to be with you and like sharing their lives with you.
Most of us get to love our grandchildren free from the everyday worries and tasks such as getting their teeth brushed or setting the rules on video games or candy. We also bring experience and enthusiasm as we see how they spend their time. When the task becomes too great, grandparents can always just go home.
As the economics of parenting becomes more difficult, you may be one of the increasing number of grandparents who spend substantial amounts of time with grandchildren to allow parents to work outside the home. For many grandparents who have become primary caregivers for grandchildren, there is no going home.
Since you live nearby you may also be a part of your grandchildren’s birthdays, Halloween, and Christmas celebrations. This can be a fun part of your role in their lives.
Grandparents who live close have a special role to play as this time of year comes around. You can plan on “trick or treators” at your door so you need to be ready. Your comments about their costumes and how cute they look are especially important not only to your grandchildren but also to your children.
Your involvement with your grandchildren for Thanksgiving isn’t as big a thing as the holidays that surround it. But just knowing that the larger family is likely to be together is something children look forward to.
The biggest treat for grandchildren is in December. No matter how you celebrate the holidays, children love it. They have a chance to know that presents will be coming and they are excited about it. They may expect to see a Christmas tree go up in their house or they may even have a chance to help decorate for the holiday.
Big annual ‘Breakfast’
A big treat for many families in our area is the “Breakfast with Santa” that comes each year. This celebration put on by Parenting Matters Foundation has been going on for more than 25 years. This year the breakfast will be on Dec. 7 at the Sequim Middle School cafeteria.
Each year, Santa talks to the child, asks about the child’s plan for Christmas, lets the child pick a book, and gives the family a chance to have a picture taken with Santa before they eat breakfast with many other families in the community. It is a chance for people to meet people and enjoy a special time together over breakfast.
What is especially nice about this holiday event is the number of grandparents who come to watch their grandchild sit on Santa’s lap and talk with him and with the elves who are there to help.
This is so much more special than trying to take your child to a department store to talk with Santa. The best part is that parent and grandparents and even aunts and uncles can all enjoy the morning.
Even though it is still October, put Dec. 7 on your calendar. You don’t have to have a grandchild to enjoy the morning. Just come by, watch the happiness unfold, and enjoy an inexpensive breakfast with your neighbors.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. To reach First Teacher Executive Director Patty Waite, email email@example.com or call 360-681-2250.