Last week I was on the train going into the city for an appointment. It was well after rush hour commuting so the carriage was almost empty. As I entered the carriage, I noticed an elderly couple busy looking at their phones.
Beside them were two large suitcases which indicated that they were obviously travelling to or from holiday. Then I heard a little voice: ‘Nanny, Poppy, are we there yet?’ This voice belonged to a little boy aged about 5 years.
Do you listen to your children?
The elderly man and woman continued to look at their phones totally ignoring the child’s question.
Again, the little boy asked:
‘Nanny, Poppy, where are we?’
Unbelievably, the man and woman continued to ignore the child’s question. I was becoming a little tense as I wanted to answer the child myself.
Then, the little voice asked a slightly different question: “Nanny, Poppy what station is this?’
Suddenly, both man and woman looked up to read the station name sign. Without looking at the child, the man said:
‘It’s not our stop.’
The woman glanced at the child and said: ‘It’s two more stops.’
There was no effort put into engaging with the child who, I presumed, was their grandson. It made me feel quite desolate and the little boy looked quite wistful as if he needed a reassuring hug.
I wanted to tell that woman to take her little grandson onto her knee, to hold him close and tell him the names of the stations and all other things about the journey they were taking.
Here is the point of this: these grandparents had the perfect opportunity to make this journey a wonderful adventure for their little grandson. All they had to do was to look into his eyes and talk to him about what was happening. This small child was nervous and unsure, and his grandparents showed no interest in him or his feelings. Their focus was on their screens. I felt angry but knew I could not interfere.
Respect your grandchild
So, here’s the point of this blog: if you would like to build a good, trusting relationship with your grandchild, give them respect. Listen to them. Look into their eyes when they speak to you. Respond to their questions immediately. Make them the centre of your attention.
Presents cannot replace quality time spent with a child. Discussing the current situation, regardless of where you are at that point in time, with the little child must be priority number one.
When you have your grandchild in your care, show the child that you truly care about them and their feelings. Let them know that they are the focus of your attention.
Give them a feeling of self confidence from the knowledge that you love them, and you want them to know this one single true fact in their life. This is the secret to happy grandparenting.