Let Them Have Their “Things”: How We Encourage Thriving Child-Grandparent Relationships

1606358_10152825129944600_2166438068879887619_oIn Nena’s house, there was a chicken-shaped candy dish filled with an assortment of fun-size Hershey’s bars. I remember waiting until she wasn’t looking to sneak a piece (okay, two). Not wanting to get caught, I would wad the wrappers into the oversized couch cushions. And, because I have no self-control, I watched for an opportunity to grab another. Eventually, I made my way through the Mr. Goodbars, the Krackles, and the milk chocolate Hershey’s bars, leaving behind only the dark chocolate. By some miracle, that candy kept refilling itself, and not a word was spoken about how much chocolate I’d consumed. It was our “thing.” Well, one of our many things. And, now that I have children, I want them to have “things” with their grandparents.

I have amazing memories with both of my grandmothers (and one step-grandfather), largely because of my parents’ commitment to fostering those relationships with my grandparents. With our children, we are trying to mimic the same by doing the following:

Alone Time. The child-grandparent relationship is just like any other — it needs quality time to grow. And, let’s face it, while they are good, supervised visits with the grandparents don’t always foster the most quality time together. So, we pack one or both children up and let them go home with the grandparents on occasion. We let them have their adventures. And, when they get back, we listen to the beaming toddler recap what happened as we empty the backpack that is inevitably filled with more stuff than it was when it left.


Letting Go of the Rules. When my daughter (our oldest) was a baby, a grandparent fed her a strawberry. A strawberry! We weren’t to strawberries yet. We were barely on peas and carrots. I was then faced with what I think is one of the most important parenting decisions: Say something or let it go. I closed my eyes, breathed, and chose the latter. Parent rules and grandparent rules are just different. And, that’s okay. It’s also okay to set boundaries when they are needed.

Employing Technology. My parents don’t live close to us. In fact, they live all the way in the state directly north of us. (I’m too scared to actually utter the name of the state here on a Texas blog.) But, through FaceTime, text, and phone calls, we usually touch base with at least one grandparent on the daily.

Finding Common Interests. My dad has few but very passionate interests. Two of these interests are rocks and maps. Through happenstance, or maybe genetics, our toddler also loves rocks and maps. I know cultivating these interests will allow her adventures with Gramps to become even more meaningful.

If I were into graphic t-shirts, I would proudly sport one often that says “Grandparents are proof that God loves us all.” They spoil my children. They provide me the occasional break. They give me peace of mind, knowing my children have somewhere to turn for advice when Mom and Dad aren’t cool anymore. They get to be young again. Win-win-win. And, I will do everything in my power to ensure that these relationships are strong.

How do you encourage your children to build relationships with their grandparents?

Rachel loves a good fairytale, so it’s no surprise that, after moving to Fort Worth from Washington, D.C., she kissed a frog and fell in love. She is the mother of two perfect children—Lillian, an adventurous toddler, and Lucas, a handsome cuddle-bug who is speeding through infant-hood too fast. She loves pearls, books, coffee, talking about books over coffee, writing, listening to others’ life stories, and spending time with her family. When she is not busy practicing law or changing diapers, you will find her exploring the amazing culinary and cultural delights that Fort Worth has to offer or blogging at Honeycomb and Pearls.


  1. This Grammy is both beaming with pride and leaking happy tears as I read this. I am so grateful that you share your babies with us and don’t wince overly much when we make them rotten and send them home and that you don’t mind that ice cream is a food group at our house! (I hope I didn’t just reveal a secret that Lilly and I have.) I just hope my little grand guys and dolls have as fond of memories as you have if their grandparents!


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