July 27, 2010
Tip of the Week: May 24th, 2009

GrandparentsMake A Big Difference in
Today's Challenging World

By Nancy Carlsson-Paige

Our adult children don't alwayswant to hear parenting advice from us, their own parents. Theywant to do it their own way, which makes a lot of sense to me. Ithink where we grandparents make a difference is in the relationshipswe have with our grandchildren. How we interact with them, whatwe do together, and the activities we encourage them to do can make acritical difference in their lives, especially today.

Our grandkids are growing up in a world vastly different from the oneour own kids grew up in. These days, a host of social forces and trendsis putting tremendous pressure on children: Here are just a few.

1. Entertainment media are too often replacing active, child-centeredplay and social time with peers and family. Constant depictions ofviolence, aggression, and disrespect towards others are immersing kidsin a world where "might makes right."

2. Aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at kids are pushing a host ofproducts, toys and values on children, teaching them to value "having"over "being" from an early age and to grow up too fast.

3. Economic and time pressures on parents are leading them to quick-fixapproaches to discipline and to rely on "electronic babysitters" likeTV's, Game Boys, and X-Boxes.

4. An overemphasis on standardized tests in our schools is robbingchildren of genuine learning opportunities and resulting in the loss ofunstructured play, arts activities, and social time, all of which areessential to their well being.

Childhood is eroding out from under our grandkids, but we grandparentscan do a lot to get it back. When we have time with our grandchildren,we can offer them activities and relationships that will help restorethe healthy aspects of childhood they are losing out on. We canbring out things to do that will encourage their creativity and healthyplay: open-ended materials like building toys, paper and markers,playdough, collage materials and found objects.

We can scrap the toys linked to media, the Bratz dolls, the coloringbooks--all of the activities that encourage our grandkids to imitatethe scripts they've seen in the media that limit their imaginations andinhibit the telling of their own stories.

We can be mindful too, of the nature of our relationships with ourgrandchildren. We can be a presence in their lives, a person whoaccepts them deeply, without judgment or expectations, someone wholistens completely with an open mind and compassion.

We can take time to ask our grandkids questions that encourage them totalk and to show us more deeply who they are. When we need themto do certain things, we can approach these tasks like players on thesame team: "We have to get the playdough off the table now. How can we do that?" In this way, we can engage our grandkids insolving problems with us,showing them an alternative to the coercive approaches they see allaround them, inviting them to experience with us a more mutual way ofbeing in relationships.

NancyCarlsson-Paige's most recent book is TakingBack Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced,Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World. For more informationvisit www.nancycarlssonpaige.org. Permission granted for use onDrLaura.com

Posted by Staff at 7:21 PM