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Growing up, I secretly wished for an Auntie Mame type of grandmotherly figure who'd dote on me and lavish me with lots of sweet treats and more hugs and kisses than I could stand. Although I'm sure my grandparents loved me, neither set was very demonstrative, and unfortunately my monthly encounters with them were, for lack of a better word, uncomfortable.
While I never got the grandparent experience I longed for, my kids luckily reaped its benefits and then some. Because of my parents grand gestures, my daughter's bedroom is filled with every article of clothing ever manufactured by American Girl, and my son has every superhero accessory the Marvel Comics empire has conceived.
But I also see with my kids and my parents that the foundation of their close-knit rapport has always been based on quality time they've spent together. When my dad was still living, even the mere act of his driving my kids home from school, spending that seemingly mundane quality time is what has ultimately created a comfort level that no amount of material things could possibly compare to. I know in my heart that the time my kids spend with their grandfather is indelibly etched in their hearts and minds forever.
His presence and his warmth- although I wish they had more time with him- made an impact on them– and I hope my mother will be able to carry on this legacy of unconditional love with them- started so seamlessly by their grandfather. My daddy- the first man I ever loved.
Keep reading for more ways grandparents can bond with their grandchildren!
Draw, sew, play and MOST IMPORTANTLY READ together!
Some of the best conversations with grandchildren begin while they are drawing or playing with their toys and reading books together like Good Night, Baby Animals, You've Had a Busy Day.
One of the easiest ways to enjoy time together is reading aloud to one another and one of my favorite children's authors is Karen B. Winnick, whose acclaimed children's books give voice to her diverse charitable and educational endeavors.
Her new book Good Night, Baby Animals, You've Had a Busy Day (Henry Holt and Co; January 24, 2017; Hardcover; $17.99) is a beautifully illustrated book of six original stories following young animals exploring their world in true-to-life adventures. Filled with action-packed pages, sound effects, and patterned text, this 64-page, beautifully illustrated story book is the perfect bedtime story for toddlers.
Ms. Winnick is a noted author whose books delight children and parents alike. Winnick's other picture books, Gemina, The Crooked-Neck Giraffe and How Lucky Got His Shoe honor those who are differently-abled. Her stories help children to feel better about themselves and are an important reminder to show compassion and respect for others.
“Good Night, Baby Animals, You’ve Had a Busy Day” follows the true-to-life antics and adventures of young animals in the wild as they, eat, play, tumble, romp, and explore their natural habitats and meet other animals who share their surroundings. Children will learn fun and accurate facts about the animals featured which include tigers, elephants, rhinos, giraffes, pandas, and gorillas.
Another common theme found in her books is female heroines in American history. She has written about the story of Grace Bedell who wrote to Abraham Lincoln suggesting he grow a beard in Mr. Lincoln's Whiskers and Sybil Luddington in Sybil's Night Ride who rode longer and further than Paul Revere to warn the colonists that the British were coming.
But Karen Winnick is not only an author but is also an educational activist who speaks at public schools to encourage literacy. Through her family foundation, she supports many literacy programs such as Reach Out and Read, Read! Set! Read! and Read to a Child and her animal charities include Best Friends Animal Society, the Lange Foundation, the Los Angeles Zoo, Wild Aid and Wild Earth Allies and she is President of the Los Angeles Zoo Commission.
She also honors her Jewish heritage by supporting a great many causes such as Birthright Israel, Beit Issie Shapiro, Israel Guide Dog Center for the Blind and the Israeli Philharmonic. She combines her love of animals and Jewish heritage by underwriting an animal-assisted therapy program for children with disabilities at the Jerusalem Zoo.
So go ahead Grandma and Grandpa and enjoy one of Ms. Karen B. Winnick's books with your favorite toddler!
GRANDCHILD ICE BREAKERS
Let your grandchild fill in the silent gaps.
Young children are usually quite open. Once they reach elementary school, though, it's harder to find opportunities to talk with them. When you do, make sure to strike up the conversation when you're alone with your grandchild. Allow for pregnant pauses that can give your grandchild the chance to confide in you and even tell you secrets.
Ask open-ended questions.
Instead of asking, “How was school today? ask “What did you do in science class today?” This way, you don't give your grandchild the option of ducking out of a conversation with a one-word response such as “Fine” or “OK.” And avoid questions that begin with the word “Why?” Those types of questions often make kids defensive.
Scrawl a likes/dislikes cheat sheet.
At any age, most children like to tell you about their friends, the games they play, their dolls or action figures. Make yourself some conversation-starting cheat sheets so you can keep up with your grandchildren's latest interests. Learn the sports teams they like and how to play one or two or their favorite games.