Monday, September 18, 2006

Hurrah For Grandparents

HURRAH FOR GRANDPARENTS By Dr. James F. Hubbard, Associate Professor of Psychology (Ret) UNC Pembroke, North Carolina
Over a period of twelve years in my Introductory Psychology classes we conducted surveys about the meaningful relationships of children as they grow and develop. High on the list were grandparents. I want to share these findings with grandparents of today. It should give them positive feelings about their role in children's lives.When they were small they have fond memories of their grandparents as playmates. They played outdoor games with them. They also played exciting parlor games with them which were much preferred to TV programs.. They remember grandmother's art materials. They remember making cookies and decorating them. These little ones had a special memory of visiting their grandparents when there was a new baby in their home. They felt on the edge of things at home but at the very center at their grandparents. They remembered some special trips to the zoo and theme parks. So many of them were introduced to fishing and hiking even with campouts and cookouts. Most of all they remembered how their grandparents treated them. They were not bossed or pushed. They really didn't make them do things. They used persuasion and talked them into behaving properly. Contrary to what parents believe, these children did not believe that they could do anything they wanted to do. They always asked. Misbehavior was very rare because most of these children felt that they were guests and visitors in somebody else's home. So many said that they had no desire to do ugly things at their grandparents. When they did make mistakes like tracking in mud on their feet. Grandmother usually did not fuss, but persuaded them to clean up their own messes.When they were school age some of these play relationships continued at a higher level. They were given help at sports or encouraged in music. At this age many grandparents discover hidden talents like singing and dancing and provided for lessons when they returned home. One student who is now playing in a music group got his beginning from a guitar given him by his grandfather. Another student now on the golf team gives the credit to his grandfather who discovered his steady hand and gave him some beginning lessons. A large number of these college students described how their grandparents had kept them at the books in their school years. They would call them up at report card time with both verbal and monetary encouragement. These students noted a different pattern during the school years. Brothers and sisters were invited at separate times. Cousins of the same age and sex were the rule. Their grandparents knew about sibling fighting and understand the need for separation. At this age they felt that they had more freedom from the regular routine. They could stay up a little later and sleep a little longer in the morning. They remember being corrected for misbehavior but it was accomplished gently with the use of explanations and persuasion. It is probably at this stage that parents felt that their kids were being spoiled rotten.In the teen years grandchildren were at more of a distance. Grandparents continued the relationship by telephone. Some of them were close enough to watch their team sports. They enjoyed telling their grandparents about their high school experiences both social and academic. Surprisingly many of them had serious discussions with their grandparents about issues arriving at this age. They felt that they could talk to their grandparents about drugs, alcohol, and sex. They respected their wisdom. They remembered how their grandparents had helped them out financially when the need was great. The grandparents of these college students had an influencing role. They were still fond of them and cherished the memories over the years. From my study of this relationship over a period of twelve years there was indeed a major finding of how important this relationship was.
Grandparents of today no doubt provide these same experiences.


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