Getting Grandpa and Grandma Involved With Family Dinners
You’re a working parent, so you already know this: today’s family structure doesn’t always dovetail neatly with the demands of modern life. Even if both parents work outside the home (as is the case with the majority of working and middle class families today, or if you head a single-parent household), the school day still begins and ends at the same time, kids have to be shuttled to soccer practice and voice lessons, and meals still have to be prepared, served, and enjoyed.
With so many competing obligations, parents can become stretched thin and exhausted. It becomes harder and harder to make time to sit down with our children for family meals, which, as we’ve discussed, is one of the most effective ways to help your kids become healthy and successful. In order to meet all these needs, frazzled parents often turn to their own parents to bridge the gap.
Build New Memories and Family Traditions
But getting a grandparent involved with your family dinner routine will do more than just make it easier to get food on the table. By encouraging your kids to ask questions about family history, encouraging Grandpa and/or Grandma to tell stories about how things were different (and not so different) when they were young, you’ll be creating new memories your children will cherish, preserving and passing along family history – often in the form of priceless recipes – and helping to make sure grandpa or grandma feel loved and useful during a time of their lives when those feelings are especially important.
An involved grandparent can provide a sense of stability, safety and continuity for kids, a link to your family’s, community’s, and culture’s heritage, and an additional role model for your children to look up to. They say the past is a foreign country. Even young grandparents have life experiences totally alien to your kids. Sharing stories of these experiences is a great way to expand your kids’ horizons.
Here are a few tips for getting grandpa and grandma involved in your family dinners
- Write down some family recipes to make.
- Make sure family dinners with the grandparents are a regular date.
- Have grandma and the kids prepare the meal together.
- Go through old photos together over dinner and tell stories related to each picture.
- Have your kids prepare a few interview questions to ask Grandpa or Grandma.
- Family Day 2013 (September 23rd) will be an excellent opportunity to get the grandparents involved by breaking out some old family recipes.
If it isn’t practical or possible to incorporate a grandparent into your family dinner routine, remember that other family members such as uncles and aunts, or even long-time family friends can play a similar role. They can help your children gain valuable insights about the world beyond their horizons, and learn valuable lessons in kindness and community.