Today, I am channeling happy thoughts and cherished memories. We’ve just finished moving my mother-in-law in across the street, and having her so close has brought back so many memories of my childhood and my own children’s childhood.
I recently read an article which pointed out that “For decades, the importance of grandparents in kids’ lives flew under the radar.” The article goes on to list the many benefits:
- Kids often turn to their grandparents for advice when they are facing adverse events;
- relationships between children and their grandparents increased the likelihood that kids will become engaged in their communities;
- and being around grandparents actually makes less sedentary and has a positive affect on their BMI.
And there’s more…
“Grandparents can also help teach grandkids values, morals, and language skills, says Sabrina Bowen, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Rockville, Maryland. They often share family stories that help grandchildren understand where they came from. And research suggests that knowledge of family history has been used as an index for assessing kids’ well-being.”
I can certainly attest to that. There were no more important influences on my life than my grandparents (sorry, Mom and Dad, but you were definitely a close second), and hearing the stories about our family history was one of the best parts of being around them. In fact, my grandparents’ courtship and marriage are the basis for Lily and Ben’s love story and happy life together in my book, The Devil’s Fortune.
When I was growing up, there was no place on earth I wanted to be more than at my grandparents’ house. I looked forward to every weekend trip “to the country” and to my weeks spent there every summer. It was more than my home away from home. It was my sanctuary. Whether I was out crabbing with Granddad, picking blackberries with my best friend across the street, or hanging clothes on the line with Grandma, I was happy and at peace. Even chores were more fun at Grandma’s house. Going to bed at night meant lying beneath line-dried, sweet smelling sheets, with the window cracked open, listening to the frogs and crickets. Days were long and lazy, spent walking through the fragrant fields of tobacco (still one of my favorite scents), fishing, playing cards, or just lying on the floor coloring. There was no rush, there was no schedule, there were no commitments (yeah, kind of like being quarantined, but not).
As I grew older, I continued to cherish my time with my grandparents. My grandmother and I became even closer after the death of my grandfather when I was eighteen. I still visited her for a week every summer even after I married. Until Gram had her stroke, when my youngest was only four, my girls and I relished our annual “week at Granny’s house,” where they, too, enjoyed the same relaxed, care-free week that I had as a child. I still miss my Gram every day. And just as I loved being with my grandmother, no matter how old they get, my girls always love spending time with my parents.
When we moved to our current house, Rebecca was five, Katie was two (we moved in on her birthday), and Morgan would come along one month later. Ken’s grandparents lived across the street, and they became regular caregivers for our children. As the girls grew, they made a habit of visiting Nan and Pop almost daily. The year Katie got an Easy Bake oven for Christmas, she baked Pop a different kind of cake almost every day for weeks and proudly walked them over to him, insisting that he eat the cake then and there. Pop happily obliged. Their house was the first house the girls wanted to visit every Halloween, and it was to Nan and Pop’s that they wanted to go every time they reached a goal, achieved a milestone, or had any kind of good news to share. A few years ago, Morgan wrote a blog expressing what a tremendous influence Nan and Pap had on her.
At twenty-four, twenty-one, and nineteen, one would think that my girls would be past the age of running to visit a grandparent or great-grandparent every chance they got, but not so. Since Ken’s mom moved in over a week ago, Katie and Morgan have made it a point to visit on the back porch while enjoying homemade snowcones nearly every other day. Rebecca often makes Grancy’s house a stop after one of her walks. Mom joins us for meals once or twice a week, or we go to her house for dinner.
My girls are benefitting from having their grandmother across the street, and so is she. Dr. Bowen says, ‘“Research seems to suggest that positive connection increases the quality of our lives…It makes logical sense that grandparents who connect with their kids would be healthier, live longer, and feel better.”
Grandparents who have relationships with their grandchildren are better at technology, have reduced depression, and show increased cognitive benefits. I know that Ken’s mother and my own parents would agree with all of that. My mom often FaceTimes with her granddaughters, and the girls certainly keep her and Dad on their toes. My niece lives with my parents, and I see so many beautiful benefits. She and Mom bake together, shop together, and watch movies together. Mom introduces Kat to her favorite classic films and her favorite recipes, and Kat keeps Mom up on all the latest teenage crazes.
Unlike families in many European and South American countries, the US doesn’t have a great number of live-in grandparents, and I find that sad. Many families don’t even live near their grandparents. How many grandparents have had to weather this whole coronavirus ordeal alone? How many are depressed and lonely, longing for a family connection?
Please, don’t hesitate. Call your parents, video chat with them, encourage your kids to take the time to talk to their grandparents and let them know they are loved. Maybe this afternoon, Granddad can teach a grandchild to play chess over FaceTime. Maybe Grandma can read a bedtime story to her grandkids tonight. Don’t let the lockdowns keep your kids and their grandparents apart.
You will never regret one minute spent visiting with Grandma or Granddad, but you will certainly regret not taking the chance when you had it.
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Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018 and was awarded a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards 2019 for Inspirational Fiction. It is the 2019 winner for Best Inspirational Fiction in the RWA Golden Quill Contest, Best Romance in the American Book Awards, and a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award of Fiction. Amy’s 2019 work, The Devil’s Fortune, a finalist in the Writer’s Digest Self-Publishing Awards and winner of an Illumination Award, is based, in part, on Amy’s family history. The third book of Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Hope, was released in August of 2019.
Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy is available as a complete set for your Kindle and is also available on audio!
Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018), The Devil’s Fortune (2019), Island of Hope (2019).