Many of this country’s 64 million grandparents haven’t seen their grandkids since the start of the pandemic. Many others live with their grandkids and are worried for them.
James S. Bates, a professor at Ohio State University, recently interviewed 21 grandparents between the ages of 58 and 77 to find out how they’ve been coping and what advice they’d offer other grandparents. Here’s what they said.
Zoom and FaceTime aren’t the only ways to communicate with grandkids these days. Some of the grandparents Bates interviewed were embracing low-tech options like sending cards and gifts and talking on the phone.
During conversations, let grandkids talk without interruption and really listen to them, the grandparents in the study emphasized. “Through such open communication, grandchildren will share their concerns about the pandemic and feel reassured of their grandparents’ love and support,” Bates wrote.
If you can’t hug and kiss your grandkids now, you can make up for that by telling them how much you love them, grandparents said.
“This will end”
Don’t feel too sorry for yourself, grandparents urged. “Grandparents shared messages of hope and encouragement, making statements such as ‘things will get better’ and ‘this will end.’” It might help to count your blessings, reach out to others, and take life one day at a time.
Set an example
Take care of your health so your grandkids will want to take care of theirs. “Grandparents advised being an example of strength, resiliency, and hope in front of one’s grandchildren.”
If you live with your grandkids, give them healthy foods, help them with their schoolwork, and help them stick to a routine.
Look to the future
The pandemic will end, but the future will hold challenges, too. Grandparents can take this moment to teach their grandkids that life is full of ups and downs. “Helping grandchildren acknowledge that there will be drama, tragedy, and accidents in life will go a long way in helping them prepare emotionally and psychologically for when adversity arises.”