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Honoring the bond of grandparents

two photos of a baby with her grandmother holding her

If I am being honest, I believe my mom wanted a grandchild even more than I wanted a child.

I remember being at work and getting the call.

“Hey, mom.”

And she wasted no time, “So, when is my grandchild getting here?”

After a brief shock, I muttered, “Ugh, what are you talking about?”

She was in no mood to play games. “I found your pregnancy test in the garbage so don’t try and hide anything.”

Just like that, the cat was out of the bag and the love that my mom and daughter share, began. In honor of Grandparents Day, (Sept. 13) I wanted to share some of the wonderful benefits I have watched grow from this beautiful bond.

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There are studies out there that say kids who have a grandparent in their life are likely to have less emotional and behavioral issues. I think it’s because having loving grandparents is like having your own little cheering squad. It helps to build support for when things in life get rough. I saw this very early on in my daughter’s life when she started to play soccer as a toddler. Even though the ball was off the field more than on, my mom was there every game, telling Gabrielle how amazing she was. She was learning and by no means amazing, but from that point, my little always looked for her grandma when she was trying something new. Whether drawing a new picture or trying a new dance move, grandma’s love and approval was a building block to her self-esteem.

For kids with grandparents in their lives, there is an additional layer of resilience knowing where their family came from and what they went through to get to where they are. The special bond between a grandchild and grandparent is planted in roots, and roots feel good. I grew up in a fairly small family, as is my daughter. This makes all the time spent forming quality relationships with adult or elder family members so much more important.

When Gabrielle was 4 years old, I overheard her talking to my mom about the fact they looked different from each other. My mom explained, as only a grandmother could, how even though they may not look exactly alike, all the things she and our family were made up of were inside my daughter.

granddaughter hugging grandmother at a restaurant

She told her that the shape of her eyes matched her mama’s as well as her grandma. The way she smiled came from many people that were her family, even though she may have not met them. This was something Gabrielle has always held on to. It brings her joy when she talks about her family and how we are all made from what is inside each other. It is so clearly a part of her foundation.

Ok, I admit it. Sometimes I get jealous of my mom and daughter. As a parent, especially a single parent, I have to play a lot of good guy/bad guy when it comes to discipline and making sure the household runs successfully. My mom gets to be the fun grandma. She’s the one who takes Gabrielle on adventures, plays fun games and slips her a constant flow of treats. For my mom, this started the day my daughter came into the world and continued.

My little one started talking very early and could say her ABCs before she could walk. I firmly believe this is a result of my mom singing constantly to her. Whether it was “Itsy Bitsy Spider” or the directions on how to change a diaper, everything was done as a musical. As she started getting older, my mom would teach her other things like clapping pattycake and peek-a-boo. She saw my mom as a fun teacher, and as she became a toddler it was easy for my mom to teach her new things like coloring and crafting. They love to play games and make recipes and occasionally get into some mischief. “What are grandmas for?” my mom always says.  

The amount of fun my mom and daughter have being together is a joy to watch. It’s the quality time spent with someone who loves her that makes my daughter feel confident and content. I hope the memories they are making will live forever. 

Nicole Yezzi is an executive staff assistant at First Things First. You can reach her at nyezzi@firstthingsfirst.org

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