Grandparents in a changing world

Q. I wonder how the changes in society affect my role as a grandparent.

The things that grandparents can give the most, and which children need the most, haven’t changed. They are unconditional love, kindness and patience, humor, comfort and life lessons.

Another huge gift you can give your grandchild(ren) is the gift of time. The fact that grandparents can play a key role in the lives of their grandchildren has not changed.

In days gone by, grandchildren most often lived nearby. Today this is often not the case. Even when they do live nearby, their lives may be so filled with things such as tutoring, soccer practice and piano lessons that their free time is limited. Here is where technology can come into play. You can text, e-mail or use Skype to keep in touch. Many grandparents will frequently read a bedtime story to their grandchild by using Skype. There are also recordable storybooks where the child hears your voice reading the story as they turn the pages.

If they are nearby, there are myriad things you can do with/for them.

Play with them.

Shower them with plenty of love and affection.

Be there for them.

Be a good listener.

Share your interests, skills, and hobbies.

Offer unconditional love.

Offer undivided, no-strings-attached attention as often as possible.

Share family traditions.

Pass along your life stories.

When a child has a strong emotional tie to a grandparent, he enjoys a kind of immunity — he doesn’t have to perform the way he must for his parents, peers and teachers. The love of grandparents comes with no behavioral strings attached.


NANCY TURNEY received a bachelor's degree in social work and a certificate in gerontology. If you have a specific question you would like answered in this column, e-mail it to or call Turney at the Crescenta-Cañada YMCA, (818) 790-0123, ext. 225.

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