If your children have so much fun with their grandparents that they never want to leave them, say “thank you.”
Gratitude is basic courtesy; it is something you teach children. But expressing appreciation is often forgotten because grandparents’ roles in children’s development has been taken for granted.
“Grandparents are mentors and role models because they have the time to play with children,” said clinical psychologist Ma. Lourdes “Honey” A. Carandang.
“They have time to get to know them and tell them stories without being pressured to discipline children and earn a living for the family.”
Children can interact with their grandparents without feeling any pressure, Carandang said. During free time with grandparents, kids can be themselves. The play time is essential to child development.
“You continue to learn,” said Carandang. “You learn how to walk, write and do anything. But a child does not need to learn how to play. An infant in the crib has the capacity to play.”
Another benefit of play is lessening depressive moods or thoughts, she said.
Children should not just absorb things, but they must also have space to express themselves. They need to express their creativity to the outside world. Time spent freely with grandparents can provide just that—a space to express who they are.
Grandparents are often viewed as the spoilers in the family. Carandang said that this is fine. Old people have already been through the duty of parenting their own children. Their time with their grandchildren should be time where they could have fun with them.
Conflict often arises when boundaries are not clear. Carandang emphasized the importance of kindness when dealing with grandparents.
“What we’re missing now is the culture of kindness in the Philippines,” she said. “There’s so much violence and assault on the dignity of the human being that we have forgotten to value a person. We need to bring that back in the family. Children will pick it up.”
Parents need to understand where grandparents are coming from. It is a different world compared to when they were raising children. For example, social media and the internet play a big factor in parenting today. Now, parents can check the internet if they are unsure about something.
Thus, parents need to be respectful to the grandparents when they try to assert their authority over their children. Grandparents, meanwhile, must also understand it is the parents who have the final say.
One option is for parents to talk to their children directly, said the psychologist. Parents can tell their children that lolo and lola are there to love them and give them everything they want. But it is their job as parents to teach them what is wrong from right, and to guide them through life.
Carandang said you can start to explain things to children as young as four.
Some Filipino families are in situations that often give grandparents bigger roles. This is when parents, most especially mothers, must leave their homes to work.
These families are either experiencing urban migration if parents are working in cities, or global migration if parents are overseas. This could also apply to parents stuck in traffic for two to four hours. Their children are often left with the grandparents.
Carandang said she herself is a grandparent and appreciates her time with her granddaughter, which is twice a week. She finds pleasure in her creativity and supports her son’s parenting.
Kindness and respect go a long way. Practicing it with everyone in the family, especially grandparents, can make things easier for children.
The Mindfulness, Love and Compassion (MLAC) Institute for Psychological Services will have its fifth Parenting Academy on March 16, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The event, titled
“Grandparenting and parenting in these critical times,” will have Dr. Lourdes “Honey” Carandang as resource speaker. Fees are P3,000 for the morning session and P4,000 for whole day. Tel. 0955-7487090, e-mail email@example.com.