Use this opportunity to show the older generations how much we value them
For a child, a grandparent’s love can be pure. While parents must provide day-to-day discipline and pester kids about brushing their teeth and doing their homework, grandparents often get to occupy the role of simple enjoyment. As we get older, it’s important that we continue to honor these unique individuals in our lives. National Grandparents Day, on September 10, is one opportunity to do just that.
Grandparents offer a window into another time and way of living. They know more stories than anyone about the previous generations of our family—including what our own parents were like as kids. Millions of grandparents also serve as direct caregivers, helping their children raise their own kids, in family units called “grandfamilies.” What a gift of love that is—to make the sacrifice of child-rearing for a second generation!
Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your grandparent or other elder to celebrate this special day:
- Call or visit: If you are lucky enough to have a living grandparent, call or visit with them as often as you can—but especially the week of September 10. Written letters can also have special meaning—especially for people who led the majority of their lives before the invention of email and texting!
- Help them dictate a memoir: Make time to hear all of the stories for which you might not have heard the long versions. Your grandparent or elder might feel reticent or shy about initiating these conversations, so ask gently and make sure to get their input about a time and location that makes them feel most comfortable.
- Put together a playlist: Find out what music stuck with your grandparent since he or she was growing up. Rock ’n’ roll? Motown? Swing? Country? Jazz? Let the music draw out memories and ask questions that create conversation.
- Hold a story hour with the entire family: Ask your grandparents for some of their favorite stories. Find out how your grandparents met. Ask for details about their own parents. Inquire who their favorite teachers were, and why. Ask them to select some moments from history that stick out for them. Encourage all family members to ask questions.
- Provide acts of care: Offer to help you grandparent, if they live nearby, or find out who might need volunteer help in your community. Whether it’s doing some grocery shopping, helping with light housekeeping, or offering a tutorial on how to use an app, smartphone, or computer, you can make a huge difference. You can always connect with your house of worship or a local community center to find individuals in need.
We hope these ideas have inspired you to take the initiative and find ways to give to and learn from the people in your life with decades of extra experience. Maybe September 10 can kick off some new traditions in your life that will enrich your relationship with your elders. You won’t regret any of the time you spend getting to know them and their wealth of stories and insights!
This article is part of the Branford Hall weekly blog. We offer an array of professional training programs at ten campuses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Reach out to us for more information today!