Growing up, my friends’ families vacationed at Disneyworld or sandy beaches. But, not my family. We went to Colorado Springs.
I loved our vacation spot for one big reason: my grandparents lived there. When we’d visit my grandparents, we’d also get to spend time with all of the extended family – aunts, uncles and about a billion cousins. (It’s been joked that if you find yourself in Colorado Springs needing a ride, just stand at the corner and start hollering the family name. Some “Stegner” will be near to help.)
In contrast, raised as a military kid, my immediate family’s roots never ran deep. Just as soon as I’d familiarized myself with the neighborhood, settled into school, and made friends, we picked up and moved. (Again.) Even though I loved the adventurous life of an Air Force family, I was also drawn to the stability of a giant family (with grandparents!) who shared a town. To me, Colorado Springs was sacred.
When my husband and I were trying to decide where to put down our own roots, I wanted to recreate that Colorado Springs experience. So, we weighed the options: live in Illinois (my parents) or Minnesota (my in-laws and their extended family).
In raising older kids, I’ve never been more grateful to live close to a set of grandparents. (And that the other set – my parents – visit often.) What a blessing both sets of grandparents are to us…an epic blessing.
I’ve found in raising tweens and teens, we need the grandparents more than ever and here’s why:
In raising tweens and teens, we need the grandparents more than ever and here's why... #momlife #grandparents Click To Tweet
There’s a short list of people who truly love your kids as selflessly and wholeheartedly as you. The grandparents are on that list. With them, you can unleash all of your bragging about your kid and the grandparents actually want to hear your lack of humbleness! It’s lovely to share such love for tall, gangly humans with crackly voices and acne with someone else. (You complete us, grandparents. You. Complete. Us.)
Our family loves being involved; it’s fun to watch our kids learn and flourish in activities. However, our schedule stretches my husband and I as thin as paper. So, it’s ah-maze-ing when the grandparents dive in and cart our kids around to soccer games and basketball tournaments.
Similarly, I have a friend whose dad does all the boy scout activities with her son – it’s their special thing. And another friend whose son’s grandpa is in charge of his music lessons. Then there’s the grandmas who help working parents with sick kids and take-your-dog-to-the-school-picnic day.
Grandparents who jump in and help out – let us all rise up and call you beloved. (I’m so serious.)
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I used to talk about my kid’s silly words, tantrums and diaper blowouts with the moms in my MOPS group. (Mother of Preschoolers) But, now I can’t. My kids tell me things they don’t want laughed about or spread around like wildfire. But still, moms need a safe, nonjudgmental place to unravel our parenting thoughts. Grandparents provide that safe place.
If just even one of the four grandparents show up for a game or concert, my kids feel like a million bucks. The more people who love my kids and cheer them on the better!
I can tell my kids a thousand times that they need to read because it’s vital to their education and I get crickets. But when grandma buys them a new book and encourages them to enjoy it, all of a sudden reading is the best thing ever. Those important life lessons we so desperately want our kids to learn…sometimes the grandparents can drive home the point from a new angle or using a different style and it works. I’m pretty sure that’s called everyone is winning.
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There’s something life-giving about hearing your mom, dad or in-laws say, “Good job!” or “I’m grateful for you!” or “I love you!” Or notice that you could use a dinner out. (“Bring the family – we’ll pay!”) Or bring you a glass of peach sweet tea for no reason. (Awwww…you noticed me!) Grandparents, your kind words mean more to us then we sometimes even realize.
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Mommas, yes, we want our teens to tell us everything. (Ah…sweet, utopia…) But, sometimes, there’ll be moments, when they need to talk to someone other than us. (Or instead of us.) So, it’s nice to have trusted adults who will help our kids gain perspective, feel cherished and know they’re loved. Both kids and parents benefit from a wide support group.
My kids love that when their nana and papa come to visit. They explore museums, putt-putt golf and make an abundance of chocolate chip cookies. My kids talk about the visit for months.
My in-laws (who live in town) are a staple in my kids’ lives. If my kids haven’t seen their grandparents in a few days, they bug us to see them. They even online shop with grandma over the phone. (“Mom, the amazon price has dropped, can I call grandma and let her know?”) (I’m not even kidding.)
By interacting with their grandparents, my kids are learning to engage with people and build cherished, healthy relationships.
Most of those Colorado trips I remember so fondly ended up to see just my grandma and the rest of the extended family. My grandpa died from Parkinson’s disease young. (I was only 12.) Similarly, I have dear friends whose parents are gone, or never visit, or are too busy living their own lives. Also, I have friends whose family drama has cast a dark shadow and the relationship isn’t there. So, I don’t take for granted two sets of active, healthy grandparents. And if you are in my boat, I bet you don’t either…
To the grandparents who love us so well – thank you. Thank you for being our “support staff.” (As my parents call themselves.) We cherish all the encouragement, and listening, and rides for our kids. I know we often forget to tell you, so we’re saying it now: thank you.
Thank you for loving us so well. You are a sacred part of our lives and the moments spent with your grandkids – they will always be remembered.
Just like you. You are deeply loved.
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Cheryl is a mom of 3 boys, wife, speaker, high school teacher, and author of Empowered Moms & Kids. She has a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is passionate about learning and teaching. On www.empoweredmomsandkids.com you’ll find inspiration and encouragement for moms raising tweens and/or teens. Read more in the “about” section of this page.