"At no time in history has effective grandparenting been more critical," said Lauralee Christensen, who, with her husband, Val, has "eight very nice children and eight perfect grandchildren" and who appears regularly on "Good Things Utah" with ideas on creative grandparenting."
"Grandparents have a uniquely powerful ability to influence, guide, teach, protect and inspire their grandchildren through their love, example and teachings."Christensen noted that grandparents can leave their grandchildren a legacy in five different areas, and suggested a few ideas and activities in each area:
Love: "First and foremost, grandchildren need to feel a grandparent's love. This special relationship adds immeasurably to their feelings of worth." To show love:
Send love notes.
Keep a quote book with their cute sayings to give them when they grow up.
Ask them to teach you something they do well.
Faith: "Grandparents have a unique opportunity to strengthen testimony, teach and serve as an example." To share faith:
Share your own stories.
Plan summer activities that inspire.
Give meaningful gifts on special occasions.
Heritage: "Grandparents are the link between present and past generations." To strengthen this link:
Adopt an ancestral country and its culture for a year.
Create a family cookbook.
Appoint the 10- to 12-year-olds to be the family historians and let them make videos and scrapbooks.
Traditions and memories: "The 'we always . . .' events are the ties that bind an extended family together. Family traditions give grandchildren security and an identity." To strengthen traditions:
Hold an annual tournament or competition (ping-pong, croquet . . .)
Have a cooking specialty that you become famous for.
Plan traditions on nontraditional days, such as the first day of fall, the longest day of the year, the first big snowstorm.
Service: "We live in a day when our ability to serve is not limited by borders. Grandparents can involve their family in service in many ways." Serve by:
Example! Example! Example!
Sponsor a family walk-a-thon that benefits a favorite charity.
Have a family garage sale and use the proceeds to buy supplies for quilts or toys needed by humanitarian organizations.