Teaching children to respect their grandparents
Though I keep getting emails and calls as a response to my articles, a few of them appreciating, some criticizing and some encouraging me to write more. The one I got last week was very different from the usual. After a long day’s work, a lady’s weak, old and shivering voice stuck me to my phone for the next forty-five minutes. It was a little difficult for me to follow her feeble voice laden with emotions but I could somehow connect to what she felt. Her talks were primarily based on how she was treated like a stranger in her own house and how her children isolated her and did not let the grandchildren come next to her. Neither was she ever given any priority nor was she ever included in any of their family outings or get together. She did not ask or expect much from her children, all she craved was to spend some time with her children and grandchildren and wanted to be treated fairly by them. All I could do for her at that point was to lend her an empathetic ear and let her speak. As she continued, I started wondering, wanting to be a part of the family? Desiring to be inclusive, to be respected, to be treated fair, to be given importance? Are all these too much for a parent to ask for? Are these too difficult for us to make it happen for our old parents? At the end of the conversation she had only one request to me, to bring about this concern of many grandparents in my article, hence today’s article, a dedication for her and many more similar grandparents.
Dear parents, I urge you to understand that your children are fortunate if they are growing up with their grandparents and they have a positive relationship with them. As a parent to your child and as a child to your parents, it is your responsibility to build this bond. It is important that you teach your children to respect their grandparents. From a young age, children need to know that elders are due their respect, especially those in their family. Here are few suggestions on what you can do and practice to build this beautiful bond:
Explain the importance of grandparents: Tell your children that grandparents are a part of their family. Help them understand that they are not just old people who don’t understand kids. Remind them that their grandparents were kids once and have experienced many of the same things and can be a good source of help when they need it.
Teach your child the meaning of respect: Kids may think of grandparents as either benevolent people who will always give them what they want or grim, old- fashioned critics who must be endured during occasional visits. However, you need to teach your child that respect means ‘to honor’. This includes considering others before ourselves, submitting and treating people courteously. Grandparents need not fit into the ideal image of the children for them to show respect.
Show Respect yourself: Even if your own relationship with your parents is strained for multiple reasons, but that is something between you and your parents, never let your kids take advantage of that. Respecting your parents despite disagreements is an important example to set for your children. It helps them realize that even if they don’t always agree with their parents, they should still respect them because of the position in the family. This may even improve the relationship between you and your children.
Encourage communication between your children and their grandparents: If you live near each other, frequent visits are an option. Fortunately, however even long distances don’t have to be a barrier for a quality relationship. With the advent of technology there are so many ways to connect, these may not be as meaningful as personal visits, but they keep the line of communication open. Your children and grandparents don’t have to be isolated acquaintances.
Never Turn a blind eye: If you have at least once noticed your kids showing disrespect to their grandparents, you should not turn a blind eye or be silent about it. It is unacceptable and there is a high probability that their disrespectful attitude will turn on you as you get older. Your parental mission is to bridge the generation gap between your kids and their grandparents. Do not wait until the situation gets out of hand. Tell your kids that it is necessary to respect and assist the elderly. No matter how busy you are, it is necessary to find time to familiarize your children with the main etiquette rules.
Lastly create a feeling in your children that it is their privilege to spend time with their grandparents and not a favor; they could learn a lot of life’s lessons by spending quality time with them. So, they should behave in a very civil and polite way to benefit from this wonderful grandchild-grandparent’s relationship.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)