As parents, we know how our relationship with our children significantly affects how they will turn out as adults. Parents, however, are not the only close relationships that inspire the children. For example, studies have shown how significant grandparents are in children’s lives and how living close to them can affect their well-being. In my experience, the impact of the grandparents has has a positive effect on their development.
I am an immigrant from Pakistan. Living in a joint family system is a norm there. I was raised living in the same household as my grandparents. I had my daughters in the same household as their grandparents until they turned 5 and 3 years old. My daughters enjoyed being pampered by their maternal and paternal grandparents while we lived in Pakistan and still share a unique bond with them, even while being thousands of miles away from them.
My children are bilinguals, and their grandparents played a significant role in building their vocabulary. They are proficient in both Urdu and English because of their communication with their grandparents. I feel that every person has their way of communicating, and I always think that my children learn some unique new words after visiting them. The kind of words that we read in old classics, but as parents seldom use in our daily communication
My younger daughter has Down’s Syndrome, and I had read about how she might have delayed speech. However, since she was always around grandparents who loved talking to her and reading to her, her speech and vocabulary developed exceptionally well. My mother sang her favorite Bryan Adams songs to her every time we visited her, while my mother-in-law introduced her to various games that helped build her vocabulary early. Having grandparents around also reduces the need to resort to screen time, which also helps in improving the child’s speech.
Having grandparents around made us better parents. I feel that since young children demand constant stimulation and attention, it can be exhausting for us parents to keep up with that. My husband and I benefitted greatly from having our parents live close by. Even though we were the primary caregivers, having little pockets of breaks when your child is with the grandparents does wonders for the parents’ mental health. There have been times when I did not have the energy to play one more round of peek-a-boo while feeding the baby, and my parents would come to the rescue. I felt that sometimes the kids needed a break from me too, and were more flexible around the grandparents.
Living around grandparents teaches children to be more empathetic. Being around adults with different physical needs is a great learning experience for the children. My daughters were mindful of the limitations of the grandparents and would love fetching them a glass of water, massaging their heads when they got tired, and helping them find their glasses. In my opinion, this experience slows the kids down in our fast-paced lifestyle and makes them mindful of people with different needs.
I believe that children can never be spoilt with too much love. Our parents have raised us to the best of their abilities, and after becoming a parent myself, I feel that we face different challenges every day. Grandparents have been through it all, and they realize how the days are long, but the years are short. I love watching them being a hundred percent present, even while listening to the same story for the tenth time. I love all the extra cuddles and kisses that my children get from them, making them feel loved unconditionally. It feels good that my children will always have an advocate for them, even if they mess up because, in the grandparents’ eyes, they can do nothing wrong. Wouldn’t we all want someone in our life that we knew would make us feel that special?
My favorite part about my children’s relationship with their grandparents is when they tell them stories about how my husband and I were as kids. My girls always listen to them with wide eyes, imagining their parents as naughty little kids just like them. They laugh and giggle at the silly things that we used to do when we were their age. I think it comforts them to know that we are also the same and gives them perspective on the cycle of life. There is nothing as wholesome as a healthy, loving bond that we share with our grandparents if boundaries and respect for each other are maintained from both ends.
If this post has you feeling sad about having lost a parent, this might be what you’d like to read.