Many of you heard about Ray of Hope’s successful capital campaign this past year. To highlight how each of us can have a positive relationship with the kids in our life, Bob Fraser and Jack Ihrig agreed to be our campaign community chairs and champions for child safety. The grandfather-grandson duo shares an extraordinary relationship that began at Jack’s birth and continues to grow. From silly nicknames to coaching Jack’s teeball team; whether working Legos or working together to better our community for area kids, Bob would tell you that you are never too old to meet a new best friend.
At Ray of Hope, we believe all grandparents have the opportunity to play a vital role in grandchildren’s lives. Any parent can describe the special significance of a grandparent-grandchild relationship. You pull up to your parents’ home. The squealing glee from your kids is equally matched by the big grins and loving eyes of your parents. Neither has anything to do with you. But strangely, you have never felt better about being ignored.
Recent studies show that grandparents do more than just spoil grandchildren. They can be pivotal in a family’s healthy support system. Some of the ways grandparents improve the lives of parents and grandchildren include:
- Providing safe, affordable and loving care for grandchildren when parents must be away. This relieves a large amount of stress off parents.
- Being an extra layer of support for grandchildren, especially during difficult times. When listening to mom and dad sounds awful, talking about problems to close grandparents may be easier for kids.
- Connecting grandchildren to their heritage and cultural past. Grandparents always tell the best stories.
- Playing with grandchildren without the stress of work calling, laundry looming or dinner waiting. Parents feel pulled in many directions while grandparents are often better at slowing down and giving focused playtime.
- Spoiling children in a manageable way. Grandchildren know that time at grandma and grandpa’s house is special. They can enjoy some indulgences with grandparents without expecting them every day.
Regardless of geographic distance, the grandparent-grandchild connection can remain strong through regular visits, calls, FaceTime, texts, emails, photos or even letters and drawings.
Experts are also catching up to what we all have known for quite a while. Boston College recently found that emotionally close ties between grandparents and adult grandchildren significantly reduced depression symptoms in both groups. This mutually beneficial relationship is clearly more than just Grandma’s homemade cookies – although the cookies don’t hurt.