Grandparent relationships are important to both generations. Many of us have fond memories of playing, working, and hanging out with our grandparents. With families scattered across the country, it may be difficult for kids to bond with a grandparent. We can always Skype to develop cross-generational bonds, but that’s not the same as working in a garden or making homemade pizza crusts together. Look around to find a grandparent substitute such as the one in the story below.
A Grandparent Stand-in Next Door
“Mom, may I go outside and play with Mr. Morgan?” Wearing shorts and a dirty shirt, five-year-old Benjamin waited by the door.
“What are you going to play?
“Plant a garden.”
Kate smiled. “Let me walk out with you so he’ll know it’s okay with me.” She tousled Ben’s hair as they headed out the door.
Mr. Morgan looked up from his work in the flower bed as they approached. “Good morning. How are the Porters today? I could sure use some help, Ben.”
Ben walked over to the flower bed. “Yes, sir. I can help you.”
Kate looked at Benjamin. “Son, when Mr. Morgan finishes, come back in the house. It’ll be time for lunch.”
“Okay.” He plopped onto his knees in the dirt beside Mr. Morgan.
Find a Grandparent Substitute
Dennis the Menace and his neighbor Mr. Wilson are perhaps the best-known senior citizen/preschooler pair. They’re not the greatest example because Dennis annoys Mr. Wilson. A good senior/preschooler relationship is one of mutual respect and enjoyment.
If a grandparent doesn’t live nearby, there are other opportunities such as the ones below.
- A late-elementary boy sits in church with an older man who is a new widower.
- A middle-schooler bakes cookies and delivers them to a neighbor—then stays to visit while they sample the cookies.
- A high school freshman volunteers at the library alongside a senior volunteer.
- A preschooler hurries outside when he sees an older neighbor tending his flowerbeds.
- A high schooler helps an elderly neighbor trim a tree and take the limbs to a recycling station.
If you don’t mind shedding a few tears, watch this video of a grandparent stand-in and his little buddy.
Commitments and Benefits
Remember that relationships take time. They will not happen in a few cookie deliveries or three weeks of volunteering at the library. Encourage your child to make a long-term commitment.
Our kids and our seniors miss an important part of life if they do not have friends of all ages. There is much to learn—for each of them.