The benefits of caring adults
Dec. 22, 2014
by Jenni Sebora

This is the time of year that I really observe the presence of caring adults in children’s lives.

Like the kindergarten child waving to his grandma in the full auditorium at his very first school Christmas concert. The gymnasium is full, but grandson and grandma zone in, connect, and they become the most important people to each other in that full auditorium.

The grandson is waving to the grandma in full force, and grandma smiles and waves back in full force.

The role of grandparents is second only to the emotional connection of a parent.

Grandparents and children love and adore each other, because they exist and belong to each other. Yep. There is nothing else like it.

To Grandpa, his granddaughter is the best, most important, sweetest child there is in this whole world. Nothing can beat it.

Not only are grandchildren’s lives enriched by the love and support of grandparents, but they gain in terms of their own heritage and connection to the past. Who can share more about the past than someone who has lived it? What a gift to all involved!

I really do yearn for this type of connection for my own children. My parents, as well as my husband’s parents, have passed away, so our children do not have their grandparents around.

My sister, Kathy, was a pseudo grandparent, and played that role. She would send individual notes to my children after a performance, concert, or what not. This was so special.

She passed away just two short years ago. I miss her dearly, as do my children, and I will be forever grateful for the intangible gifts that she has given to my family.

In fact, not long ago, I received an envelope in the mail from my sister’s husband, my brother-in-law.

The envelope contained a note my sister had written, regarding my children and my brother’s children. Each of our children’s names were written on the note, along with small notes about something each had accomplished that my sister had read about or observed. I tacked this note on my board, and will forever keep it – that’s unconditional love.

My parents lived with us up until their deaths, and they were wonderful grandparents.

Every Saturday evening, my children would watch Lawrence Welk with Grandma in her little apartment. When would small children ever do this, but with their grandparents? Lawrence Welk is a part of their memories.

Sharing history and heritage, and a connection with the past between children and grandparents offers far more benefits than can be verbalized.

A survey on grandparents on grandparents.com revealed that 72 percent of grandparents think being a grandparent is the single most important and satisfying thing in their lives.

Sixty-six percent say they do a better job caring for grandchildren than they did with their own children.

And, so importantly, 90 percent enjoy talking about their grandkids to just about everyone. Ah, yes, that is how it should be.

Actually, research shows that having one or more caring adults in children’s lives – grandparent, aunt, mentor, or uncle – increases the likelihood that children will grow up to be more happy, productive adults. They will have less behavior issues, more success in school, and be better equipped to deal with stressors. The list of benefits goes on.

Those doting grandparents, that cheering uncle at the concert, that special note from auntie, that engagement in conversation about how things are going with neighbor Joe – these connections are so crucial, and offer such intangible rewards.

Each grandparent, uncle, aunt, and neighbor who offers this type of connection to a child is giving a gift that cannot be measured.

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