4. Create New Traditions
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Being on the receiving end of a special family tradition makes a grandchild feel special. One family’s grandparents give their grandchildren their first bicycle on their sixth birthday. That special gift is looked forward to as soon as the grandchild learns about the tradition.
Another family celebrates their ten-year-old grandchildren’s birthdays by taking them on a trip – just the ten-year-old and his or her grandparents. The grandparents give the child some guidelines and the child picks the destination.
One of our parameters is that we have to be able to drive to the destination. With our first several grandchildren their first choice was Hawaii. That seemed a little far (and expensive!) for us so we instituted the only-within-driving-distance rule. There are plenty of fun places within driving distance of our home.
Also, we asked them to pick a spot that we would ordinarily not choose for a family vacation. We wanted that trip to be special where we could do fun things with that specific ten-year-old.
You may need to just give your grandchildren a list of three or four places to choose from based on your physical capabilities. For example, if you have limitations or low stamina, I wouldn’t put “hike to a waterfall at the top of a mountain” on the list. Make sure it is something you and your grandchild will enjoy.
We found that when we first began our ten-year-old trips, we could physically do a lot more. Now there a few activities and places we tend to leave off the list.
One grandmother started the tradition of passing a family heirloom down to a grandchild when he or she turned 16.
For the girls, it is usually a piece of jewelry that belonged to her grandmother or great-grandmother. Sometimes the stone is changed to the child’s birthstone. Other times there is a setting that belonged to a family member that can be conformed to something the sixteen-year-old would enjoy. This gives them a special piece of family history.
For the boys, the choice is usually something special of a grandfather or great grandfather. Perhaps a pocket knife or a favorite writing pen. If Grandpa has a special collection, the sixteenth birthday might be a great time to pass that along.
Decorating and undecorating for the holidays can become a fun tradition for the whole family. Save an afternoon or evening to do these chores and they become more events than chores. End with a family dinner and a seasonal movie.
Do you like homemade ice cream? Make that a family tradition. Making ice cream doesn’t have to be a summertime-only occasion. Keep it in the freezer year-round so you can have a treat whenever you want.
Time spent with a grandchild is never wasted. Use the time you are together wisely to pour love and encouragement into your grandchildren.
Not only will it enrich the relationship during their growing years, but it will bond you with them for life.
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