an exclusive feature*
Reveta Bowers, the highly respected and acclaimed educator, gives us her thoughts on grandparenting.
Here you go…
1. The love you feel for grandchildren is only good if you give voice to it sincerely and often. Tell them how you feel and how much they are loved, but also let them know when you’re disappointed, so that in their eyes you are credible and believable.
2. Just because their parents may have different values from yours, grandkids still need to hear about your values and why you have them. If there are things you sincerely hold as values, share them without judgment about their parents’ differences. When they are making decisions as they grow older, your values may rise in value.
3. Physical affection is never lost on a grandchild. Hugs, kisses, high fives, fist bumps are ways to connect on both an emotional and physical level. Hugs to express love as well as empathy are equally appreciated.
4. Write them thank you notes when they give you something or do something wonderful, and it is perfectly okay to expect one in return for things you give. The exchange of meaningful notes is not lost on any generation. They are also great keepsakes and sources of laughter and memories.
5. As grandparents you are great teachers about the things you love and love doing. Bake together, take walks, put together a scrapbook or photo album, cook dinner, throw a ball or swim. All kinds of things are better shared. Read an old favorite book from your childhood.
6. Become an important “storyteller” in their lives. In Robert Cole’s book, “The Call of Stories,” he speaks eloquently about how much you learn from the exchange of stories. The oral tradition of telling stories is also an important way to share your family history and your heritage.
7. If nobody else is doing it, teach your grandchildren some good old-fashioned Civics. Maybe the next generation will grow up with some idea of how government should work and what the Constitution really does guarantee as civil rights and liberties.
8. If they are in your house, explain YOUR rules. What you will accept and tolerate should be communicated early and often. Respect for the privilege of being under your roof is one that should never be taken for granted.
9. Let the kids know how important education is to you and why. Celebrate the things they are learning, and share with them the things you continue to learn. Lifelong learning is an important thing for all families to value and practice.
10. Find and use the resources that will make you a better grandparent. Common Sense Media is there to help with all types of important issues. Remember they “rate, educate and advocate on behalf of kids and families and schools! And of course, Grandparentslink.com is there for suggestions of activities, toys, books, recipes, expert articles, beauty, self-care, nutrition suggestions, and all manner of things. Your grandchildren’s websites, libraries, and parent education programs have tremendous information to support you in raising a grandchild in the 21st Century.
*Reveta Franklin Bowers retired in June 2016 as the Head of School at the Center for Early Education in Los Angeles, where she served as the Head of School for 40 years. She returned to The Center on July 1, 2020 as CEO and Interim Head of School while the school searches for its next leader. Currently Reveta serves as Chair of the Board of Councilors of the Rossier Graduate School of Education at USC, and also on the boards of The Stepping Stones Fund, The Fedco Foundations. The EE Ford Foundation, The Los Angeles Philharmonic and as a Corporate Outside Director of Activision Blizzard.