Grandpas can have a big impact on their grandchild’s life. They just may not realize it and may need some encouragement. They often enjoy their role more as their grandchild gets older. They do better with toddlers and older because they can “do stuff” together.
That’s not to say grandpas don’t love to nuzzle their infant grandchild. I know one grandpa who shaved off his mustache because his nuzzling caused a rash on his new granddaughter’s neck. Now that she’s almost a year, he’s let his beard grow and I’m sure he’ll delight her this Christmas by donning a Santa hat and saying “ho, ho, ho!”
My husband has been a hands-on grandpa since each of our granddaughters entered the world. But he’ll be the first to admit he’s having more fun with them now than when they were babies.
On our last visit he did a science project with our ten and six-year old granddaughters. He showed them pictures of the planets in our solar system, explained some interesting characteristics of each one (e.g., Saturn has rings around it), then had them cut out each of the planets, write the names and color them using the details they discussed.
After they’d worked on the project for an hour, the ten-year old suggested hanging the planets from two mobiles made out of wooden skewers. When they finished, the girls hung the planets on their bedroom ceiling.
The three of them had a fantastic time. I stayed completely out of it. Sometimes I have to remind myself to stay out and just observe. Let grandpa have the spotlight because often the girls gravitate to grandma.
Today’s grandpas may not have been such hands-on dads as their sons and sons-in-law are. But they can get a second chance to share their talents with their grandchild.
“Now is the perfect time for grandpa to share who he is and what he knows with the new generation,” say the four grammie/authors of The Grammie Guide: Activities and Answers for Grandparenting Today.
Grandfather Styles and Activities
In their book, they describe four general grandfathering styles:
- Fun-loving grandfather
- How-to grandfather
- Hesitant grandfather
- Ready-and-Willing grandfather
Grandpas bring some of their own special qualities to the relationship:
- they’re often sillier, more physical, and less constrained
- they’re the keepers of routines
- they love their toys
- they teach healthy work ethics
They offer a wide variety of activities for grandpas to enjoy with their infant to five-year old grandchildren.
- walk-and-talk tour through the house
- blow bubbles
- stack soft blocks as high as possible
- share rituals like walking to the mailbox, feeding the dog
- indoor ball game with soft foam balls
- visit a pet shop or fish store
- play hide and seek
- teach card games like Go Fish, Memory or Old Maid
- visit a construction site
Playground equipment and technology may have changed for this generation of grandchildren, but some things never change. “Children still need the encouragement, interest and love from the adults in their lives,” write the Grammies. “Grandpas, whatever their style or approach, can and will make lasting impressions on their grandchildren.”