As a new grandparent, it may be hard to figure out how often you should see your grandchildren in order to foster a relationship but make sure to not interfere with their parenting. However, it is important to be present in their life in order to help with the development of the child. Especially in the earlier stages of the child’s life directly after birth, it is crucial to spend quality time with your grandchildren.
Why Is This Important?
Developing early attachments with a child is crucial to a child’s overall development. In a child’s early life stages, they go through major brain developments that are cultivated based on the relationships they make. These relationships with their parents, grandparents, family, and friends can impact and set the foundation for their social, cognitive, and psychological development in the future. The strength of the bond can help teach your grandchildren how to interact with others and develop self-confidence and intrapersonal skills. Studies show that loving relationships foster happiness and well-developed cognitive and social skills. On the other hand, relationships that are abandoned and lack a loving relationship with a parent or a grandparent set up children to be unhappy and incapable of creating relationships with other people or themselves.
Spending Time With Grandchildren of Different Ages
Based on what stage of life your grandchild is in, you have to adjust your relationship accordingly. You cannot maintain the same relationship you had with your grandchild when they were a baby to a teenager or else it may hinder their development. Below is a guide for how you should adjust your relationship throughout the stages of life.
Baby (0-12 months)
During this stage of life, it is crucial to see your grandchild as often as possible. During the child’s first year of life, they are unable to store long-term memory. Therefore, it should be a priority to visit the child very often, every day if possible, in order to leave a lasting relationship in the child’s mind. This stage of life is highly important to develop a close bond with your grandchild and sets the foundation for your relationship.
Toddler (1-3 years)
Your grandchild’s toddler stage is similar to the baby stage in terms that they do not retain memories and information as quickly and need frequent visits to remember your relationship with them. In this stage, it is equally as important as the baby stage to visit them as frequently as possible. This sets the foundation for your relationship and begins to develop cognitive and social developments for your grandchild. Being absent in this stage can highly affect your relationship and bond with your grandchild because they will not have any early memories of your relationship.
Preschool (3-5 years)
If you have been present in your grandchild’s baby and toddler stages, they may have become accustomed to your presence and have a foundation of who you are and what relationship you have to them. In this stage of life, it is not required to visit your grandchild every day and you may visit less frequently. However, you should still be visiting your grandchild a few days a week and asking about their days and needs to foster a loving relationship with them.
Gradeschooler (5-12 years)
Once your grandchild reaches this stage of life, you may visit them less often since the foundation of your relationship has already been built. During this stage, the grandparent should aim to visit their grandchild around once a week to still be present and active but allow them the space to grow and become more independent. In this stage, grandchildren start to attend school – which is a huge transition for them. As a grandparent, the focus should not be to attend to them for their every need anymore but to become a safe place for them to talk about their good days, bad days, and any experiences they may encounter.
Teen (12-18 years)
During a child’s teenage years, they begin to use their cognitive developments and foundation built in their earlier life stages to create relationships with people outside of their family. During this stage, they will meet new people and focus on those new interactions and may not be as present in family settings. As a grandparent, you should be understanding of this time in their life and expect to see them less often. In this stage, you will be most likely seeing them once every two weeks. When you do see them, it is crucial to establish your relationship with them as an understanding and caring individual who will help them no matter the situation they may get themselves into.
Young Adult (18-21 years)
As a child grows from a teenager to a young adult, they undergo many developmental changes and begin living a completely different lifestyle. In this stage, they change from being dependent on their parents to undertake the responsibilities of an adult. This may include a full-time job, moving away to college, serious relationships with others, and moving out of their childhood home. With this major life change comes the stress of not seeing their family often in many cases. As a grandparent, it may become rare to see your grandchildren – however, weekly phone calls can still keep your loving relationship alive and well.
No matter what stage of life they’re currently in, it’s important to offer your grandchildren a healthy amount of your time, love, and compassion. Seeing them through all stages of life is a great way to keep them and you healthy and happy for many years.