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The Value of Grandparents When Establishing Values for Your Children

By Dr. Jay Greenfeld

In recent weeks my grandfather unfortunately passed away. However, he lived an extremely full, fulfilling, and animated life. He was a true larger than life character, had this unique ability to connect with every person he met and was intentional about making sure each person he interacted with felt better and happier after he talked with them. As I reflected on his life, I learned quickly that the values he had (and many others from his generation) are fading from our current lives. The interest he took in his life and the lives of others that accompanied his connection to history is something my children will likely never experience. We have connected our phones, computers, and TVs to some outlet and along the way disconnected ourselves from each other and some of the core values that helped establish our family values. Along the way, at times, our children are distancing themselves from their grandparents and some of the simple, yet most effective values they can learn. I have often learned that the best classroom can be in a chair with a grandparent. They are young enough to know what is happening in the world and old enough to know how we got here. We have become consumed with wanting everything instantly and often enabling our children to thinking they need everything immediately. When forecasting the summer plans for your child this year, one starting point can include helping them understand what is most important within your family and where it all started.

First, take the time to reflect on your own experience with either your grandparents or grandparents of your friends and think about the values and skills you learned from them. Then start to think about how you want to ensure some of those same skills are integrated into the lives of your children. There are so many values that have become artifacts in a vault somewhere in the public library that may be available on microfilm at this point! However, often times, when you think back to what created the most memorable moments in your life with your grandparents, they were likely the simplest ones. Following that reflection, start to think about the role that your parents (i.e., your children's grandparents) can have in the lives of your children and possibly their friends as well. Unfortunately and realistically, in the current world, one grandparent lives in the same city as their grandchildren, sometimes two and very rarely more. Our world has shifted since the last century and despite the advancement in technology and internet communication, there is still a distance. Therefore, there is that much more effort needed to ensure the values from the past that worked well, can still be integrated into the present.

To help ensure your children can grow up with strong, consistent and personable values, summarize your reflections from your parents and grandparents. Begin with the value of both hard work and heart work. Ensure that your children know the reason for why they need to work hard both in the present and more so in the future. Although they will complain and they will want to finish whatever they are doing as quick as possible to get back to some form of technology, take the time to help them see why they need to engage in hard work. Then help them shift to see the importance of finding passion in what they do. Whether that is their school work, their chores, or mowing the lawn, help them see the value of taking pride in what they do. Then shift to the importance of using common courtesies (e.g., holding the door for someone, asking someone how their day has been going, or using appropriate manners), especially with their neighbours. Have your children engage in phone conversations with their grandparent(s), whether that is through FaceTime or traditional audio only, have them talk with the people who represent their family history. The connection will allow for your children to take an interest in another life, a life that is directly connected to their past. When they receive gifts or cards from their grandparents, have them call to say thank you, express gratitude as opposed to assuming it is expected.

Finally, as the weather warms up, help your children see the value of walking to the store, biking to the store, or meeting friends at the park and getting to know their neighbours. It sounds simple but unfortunately it is far less common than we would hope. Before cars, before electric scooters, before all of that, the way we reached our destinations was through walking and it allowed for a sense of appreciation for the little things because of the effort it took to achieve what we wanted or needed. Any opportunity you can provide for your children to see, feel and experience putting forth effort to earn something, it is a value that can carry them in many avenues of life instead of one-click and it arrives at the house. Our children are becoming less and less involved in the process of earning, change that up in your home to help empower your children as it will likely contribute to an increased sense of confidence, sense of self, and sense of independence. The more we can rely on some of the values from the last century, the more likely, our children will be able to appreciate what they have, who they have in their lives, and where they came from.


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The Value of Grandparents When Establishing Values for Your Children

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