Being actively involved in the lives of your grandchildren should include more than just being the occasional babysitter, although the relationship often starts that way.
“For us, it means everything from going to their ballgames and cheering them on to sharing with them my hobby, which is model trains,” says Robert Koury of Milltown Village. “One grandson in particular likes to build barricades and other scenes around the tracks and then make up stories about them.”
Another grandfather, who asked not to be identified to avoid unintentionally embarrassing his four young-adult granddaughters, says he and his wife have actively engaged with them since they were toddlers. “We taught them many things—sandcastle building, how to play board games with no cheating…and no letting them win! As they got older, we taught them how to boogie board in the ocean and ride bikes on the boardwalk, and they taught us how to use our cellphones and what current vocabulary really meant,” he recalls. These days, he gives them investment advice and tips on how to make a really good gin martini.
Looking for ways to bond with your grandkids? Here’s some ideas from these and other grandparents.
- Introduce them to your passions. As with Koury’s model railroad, many lifelong adult activities might appeal to grandkids as well. These include such outdoor activities as fly-fishing along the Brandywine or deep-sea fishing off the nearby Jersey Shore. Home activities could involve cooking, tinkering with vintage cars or making clothing.
- Enjoy outdoor sports without all the exercise. Taking in a Blue Rocks baseball game, Saturday football at grandmom’s alma mater or watching a Dover NASCAR race appeals to most ages. Have good knees and ample energy? Delaware State Parks boast miles of hiking trails, too.
- Create something together. Plant a backyard garden or rent a plot in a community one. Whip up a Saturday morning chocolate soufflé, build a tree house or sew a birthday quilt.
- Swap cultural experiences. Have the kids choose a concert, play or art museum that appeals to them. (In turn, they can join Granddad at the opera.) Similarly, have them start a wish list of activities they would like grandparents to share with them.
- Plan an all-family weekend vacation. Visit museums or see a Broadway show in New York, rent a house at the Delaware beaches or drive to the Poconos.
- Share grown-up activities. As children enter their late teens or reach college age, go out for Saturday brunches or volunteer together at a favorite local charity.
- Do something spectacular. Spend a day at Hershey Park or Six Flags amusement park, take a sailplane ride at New Garden Airport or discover the best Fourth of July fireworks display. Most of all, plan activities large and small that will create lifelong memories—and not just for the grandchildren.