By Michelle Talsma Everson
When I think of my fondest childhood memories, they usually involve “Beta” – my maternal grandmother. She was an amazing woman; she raised seven kids and then helped to raise my cousins and myself. She made summers special and found creative ways to have us help in the kitchen. She was like a second mom to me and I will always be grateful for the time that I had her in my life.
Now, I’m a mom, and I am happy to share that my son is also having an amazing grandparent experience. While both of my parents are no longer with us, his paternal grandparents live in the same neighborhood and see him almost daily. “G-Ma” and “G-Pa” are two of his biggest supporters, cheerleaders and advocates. I wouldn’t want to be on this parenting journey without them.
In 1978, the U.S. slated the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day and, this year, the special holiday falls on Sunday, September 10. All families are different – sometimes grandma and grandpa live across the street and sometimes across the country. In some cases, friends and other loved ones fill those important roles and, other times, grandparents step in as the main care providers, becoming parents for a second time. Whatever your family looks like, here are some ways to make Grandparents Day just as special as they are.
Recognize them on social media. Are the grandparents in your life social media savvy? Since Grandparents Day is one the lesser known holidays, it is fun to spread the word on social media. Change your profile photo to a special photo of your kids and their grandparents or, for fun, find a vintage photo of yourself as a child and your parent who is now a grandma or grandpa. Be sure to tag them so they see the post!
Give them the gift of time. We’re all busy, but carve out some time on Grandparents Day to spend time with your child and their grandparents. We’re not talking dropping the kids off so they can babysit—we’re focusing on quality time to see a movie, go out to lunch, or go on a picnic. Grandparents not close by? Give them a call or video chat with the kids.
Homemade gifts from the heart. While we encourage gift cards if it’s in your budget, be sure to have the kids make grandma and grandpa something special. A card that includes a favorite memory or a simple craft like a picture frame are great keepsakes that they’ll treasure for years to come. Some other fun gift ideas can include a family tree drawing or a recording of the kids’ favorite memories.
Donate to their favorite charity. Does grandma or grandpa have a favorite cause that they support? Do some detective work and donate to a charity they love in their name. Surprise them with the donation in a card or call on Grandparents Day.
Preserve history. Does grandma have a favorite photo that is fading? Is there a family story that could be recorded to replay time and time again? Find a fun way to save or document family history; scan or restore photos, record fun stories, and more.
For more ideas on how to make this Grandparents Day one to remember, visit www.grandparentsday.org/activity-ideas.
Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
More than 100,000 children in Arizona are being raised by their grandparents or other relatives, according to the U.S. census. Grandparents Day can be the perfect time to show your support for these grandfamilies. One way to do so is to refer them to local resources that support grandparents raising grandchildren through support groups, outings, information referrals, and other supportive services.
“Grandparents raising grandchildren may face an array of challenges such as legal, financial, educational and emotional issues that seem overwhelming when faced alone,” says Patricia Dominguez, MSW, Director of Kinship Care Services for Duet: Partners In Health & Aging, a local nonprofit that supports grandparents raising grandchildren. “We at Duet want families to know they are not alone. Duet strives to educate, empower and support grandparents helping to strengthen family relationship and enhance the lives of children. A support group for grandparents or other relatives raising children can be an effective way of disseminating information, sharing resources, and providing support.”
To learn more about services for grandfamilies, visit www.duetaz.org or call 602.274.5022.
Michelle Talsma Everson is a freelance writer, editor and the PR coordinator for Duet: Partners In Health & Aging. She plans to make a big deal out of Grandparents Day this year.