I grew up far from extended family so I spent most summers with my grandparents and other relatives. Those were special times. We would fish, pick vegetables from the garden for dinner, and most especially sneak popsicles from their endless supply.
What is it about the grandparent–grandchild relationship that is so special? Many grandparents say it’s a combination of many things – fewer daily family and work demands, greater wisdom, the ability to focus on the moment, and the fact that they are no longer the primary disciplinarian. Grandkids say that at grandma, grandpa, tutu man or tutu lady’s house (or whatever their special grandparent name may be), they feel special.
- The child feels a emotionally close to his/her grandparent
- The child has regular contact with his/her grandparent
- The child sees his/her grandparent as a source of social support (Silverstein & Ruiz, 2006).
Today it’s more common that grandparents and grandchildren live far apart. But technology now offers many tools to create closeness over the distance. And even for those grandchildren who have tutu nearby, technology can create that additional closeness. Many grandparents admit that it is because of their grandchildren that they use social media, text, email, or video chat.
Technology will never replace quality in-person and one-on-one grandparent-grandchild time. But it is one more tool that many families regularly use to develop and strengthen intergenerational bonds, pass down important heritage and cultural values, and bring enjoyment and fulfillment to life.