The Magic of Grandparenting: Practical Tips for Building the Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren

The Magic of Grandparenting: Practical Tips for Building the Bond Between Grandparents and Grandchildren

by Charmaine L. Ciardi

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Upbeat and on target, this heartwarming book looks at the important bond between grandparents and grandchildren. Full of practical as well as whimsical tips and suggestions for expressing love, whether the grandchild is a baby or a teen, The Magic of Grandparenting is the perfect gift for a grandparent-to-be or a longtime grandparents. Throughout the book people of all ages share their memories of how grandparents touched their lives, showing just how special this relationship can be.

Express you love in new and inventive ways:

- send notes and silly gift anytime for the fun of it
- send a disposable camera with a self-mailer and ask your grandchild to record a day in his life for you, and send the same to him
- write and illustrate a story you make up together
- plant a flower together and watch it grow, or plant a flower and send matching seeds to a faraway grandchild
- keep an ever-changing treasure trove of "junk" for visiting grandchildren to play with

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781466884281
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 174
File size: 292 KB

About the Author

Charmaine L. Ciardi, Ed.D., is a family counselor, lecturer, columnist, and proud grandparent. Cathy Nikkel Orme is a writer specializing in family issues. Carolyn Quatrano is a writer and single parent working with organizations promoting family life and health. The three authors are neighbors in suburban Maryland, and all share a close associating with Caring Grandparents of America.

Charmaine L. Ciardi, Ed.D., is a family counselor, lecturer, columnist, and proud grandparent. She lives in suburban Maryland, and is the author of The Magic of Grandparenting.

Read an Excerpt

The Magic of Grandparenting

By Charmaine L. Ciardi, Cathy Nikkel Orme, Carolyn Quatrano

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 1995 Charmaine L. Ciardi, Cathy Nikkei Orme, and Carolyn Quatrano
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4668-8428-1


Once Upon a Time

Discovering the Magic in a Grandparenting Relationship

Grandparents can create magic. It makes no difference who we are. Just like Jack, we sowed and tended seeds that sprouted and grew and now offer the stairway to a magic world. Magic happens when grandparent and grandchild together step outside the everyday world and enclose each other in a world of their own where adventure, discovery, and exploration are commonplace.

What do you remember most about your grandparents? Almost everyone has the same reaction to that question. A smile begins and grows until it is big and warm. Then, without hesitation, comes the sharing of a cherished memory of good times spent with a very special person — quiet teas, fishing trips, building a fortress together, berry picking, storytelling, snowball fights, companionship.

TIP: Underscore how important the grandparent–grandchild relationship can be by sharing the best or strongest memories of your own grandparents with this new generation.

"My grandparents always loved me because I was me. Through good times and bad, no matter what I had done, however miserable my mood, they were always there for me. They would do anything for me. And I would do anything for them."

— Jeanne, age 30

Being a grandparent has nothing to do with being bored, having too much time on our hands, walking with a cane, or having silver hair. It is not for the weary but for the adventuresome, the imaginative, and the wise.

The potential for magic is in our relationship with each grandchild presented to us. We can grab the opportunity to expand ourselves and the world around us or refuse it, remain unchanged, and lose forever a unique part of our lives.

TIP: Resurrect the fondest memories of family times from your childhood and tailor them to this generation. Cut down a Christmas tree together, make fudge on a wintry evening, build a fort together ...

"Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.

"We all know grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy. Because they are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations."

— President Jimmy Carter, September 6, 1979

Grandparenting is a relationship so special that adults who knew the power and pleasure of it as children carry it as one of their talismans against the slings and arrows of the outside world. The aroma of a certain food, the style of a home, or a pattern of speech can bring back a flood of memories of the unequivocal warmth of a well-loved grandparent.

The power of this relationship is so universal that grandparents are the heroes in some of our best-loved children's stories and tales. In Heidi, for example, the child's grouchy grandfather showed her a whole new way of living. He fought like a tiger to maintain their bond when the outside world threatened to sever it. His grandchild offered him a return to the fullness of life as he saw the world around him renewed in her wonder and discovery. Fairy godmothers (grandparents in disguise) make a habit of showing up in the nick of time to create a ball gown, protect through a sleeping spell, or level the playing field in some essential way for their godchildren.

TIP: Practice grandparenting on neighborhood children if you are separated by great distances from blood kin. The relationship will strengthen grandparenting muscles and add a missing warmth to your hearth.

Everybody yearns for a grandparent with that magic touch. We reach out for that grandparent in our family. If we cannot find one there, we search elsewhere until we find that wise adult companion. Or we give up the search and vow to answer that need when our turn comes.

TIP: Rent the video of Heidi, pop up some corn, and watch it with the grands.

"My grandmother was always mad about something ... perpetually cranky. We all stayed out of her way as much as we could. But there was this older woman on our corner that I could always go to. I knew she cared about me and that I could visit anytime. I went to her house and whispered all about my first loves, my hopes, my worries. I even learned to bake bread from her. I never smell hot, fresh bread without thinking about her. I guess she was my real grandmother."

— Jennifer, age 34

Our generation of grandparents can enjoy to the fullest each and every day we spend with our grandchildren. Our sense of adventure and discovery never needs to dim. We are healthier and heartier than any grandparents before us. We have more time, more energy, and the enthusiasm to seek new horizons and enlarge our new role in the family. With perfect timing, Mother Nature gives us the power to create magic when we are free enough and sufficiently fine-tuned to wave our wand expertly.

"My grandmother was big and soft and comfortable. She always smelled like baby powder. She would read to me and I loved it, because she held me and put so much expression in her voice ... Funny, I never thought of her as fat, just real full of good."

— Barb, age 46

TIP: Try something that you've only dared fantasize about. Take up kayaking, zen gardening, boatbuilding, backpacking. Share your new passion with your grands. Exercising creativity, passion, and rejuvenation is just the right tone-up for grandparenting.

Tired of the family's perception of you? This is your chance to transform yourself, to be reinvented in the eyes of a brand-new human being. With this grandchild you can explore areas you never had the time to reach before. You can exchange your old practical image for a backpack, because this grandchild is ready for adventure. Take up a smock and brush, this grandchild will explore the arts with you. Nostalgic for a baseball game with hot dogs and peanuts? This grandchild is ready to go. You can leave your true legacy with this grandchild and become a folk hero in your family now and in the future. This is as close as you will ever come to writing your own legend.

As grandparents, we have the priceless opportunity to meld the past, present, and future in a continuous pattern of growth for our family. We can ensure that the roots of our family are strong enough to resist the erosion of values, heritage, and self-worth.

"Grandparents are just very special people. My grandparents had a tremendous influence on my life. All of the things that I live by were things they taught me. They were always spitting out these pearls of wisdom around the house. But they were things that my grandparents lived by and you learned the meaning of the words from their lives. I dedicated my doctoral dissertation to my grandfather, Daniel Webster Cooper. It was the biggest tribute I could pay him. He taught me what I really live by: if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."

— Joyce, age 50

Grandparenting is unlike any experience life has offered before. It is like a day at the beach without sunburn, a picnic without ants, or income without taxation. Grandparenting is a job that we can tailor to our own specific style and talents. It has only one specific requirement. We have to care enough about our grandchild to want to share ourself with him.

On-again, off-again relationships cultivated only at holidays with no nurturing in between have little or no potential for magic. Our own best friends are the ones with whom we have shared all of ourselves — our hopes, dreams, experiences, great times, and awful times. If we allow our grandchildren to become merely acquaintances, we are passing up one of life's greatest rewards.

TIP: Create quiet moments together where a relationship can flower — a walk in the woods, breakfast out on Saturday mornings, a picnic in the snow, a few days together at the family weekend retreat.

With our grandchildren we can share without nagging to achieve, love without having to instruct, play without teaching, comfort without having to assign blame. We can be so free that we can give this child all the things we could not fully give to our own children. Mother Nature set it up that way.

Let's take a great leap forward and elevate ourselves from parent to grand parent. Two o'clock feedings, potty training, table manners — gone! Sayonara to rule making, curfews, and "eat your peas." While Mom is striving for five food groups, Grandma can serve ice cream sundaes and eclairs for lunch (occasionally). Dad's fighting with algebra, but Gramps gets to take in a movie. We have the luxury of spending time with our grandchild because we enjoy her company.

No matter how seriously and lovingly we undertook our parenting role, we still had to juggle all the necessities of life. Our time was split between trying to put a roof over their heads, put food on the table, and pay attention to our careers. When we were finally alone with our children, we had to instill discipline, teach responsibility, round out their education, and, through it all, give each of them the love they needed. Grandparenting is not a repeat of parenting. It is a whole new role in life.

TIP: Webster's New World Dictionary defines grand as splendid, complete, most important, excellent. Go for it!

TIP: Keep a journal of thoughts, memories, and hopes while waiting for the birth of a grandchild. Continue this journal as the child grows.

As we await the birth of our grandchild, our new role in the family should also grow and develop. Getting ready for grandparenting is entirely different from getting ready for parenting. There's no morning sickness or swollen feet, but there are changes. Our place in the family circle shifts, and subtle developments in our thoughts and attitudes are necessary to give birth to the grandparent in each of us.

It is time to recognize the adult status of our children. This time of preparation involves loving them as much as ever but also includes letting go. At long last, our children are all grown up. They have families of their own, and they must be allowed to take over the reins of their lives, their families, and their futures. We must allow our children the freedom to choose their own style, to make mistakes and learn from them. Offer help when requested, support without interference, and encouragement without criticism. Do everything possible to contribute to a family in harmony.

Most of us learned about family and parenthood in the trenches. We had no choice but to wing it and try to do our best. All of us made mistakes. We bought books on parenting and asked other parents who seemed more successful for tips. What we wanted least of all was someone we loved looking over our shoulder and telling us what we should have done.

There really is no perfect way to raise children. All parents differ from one another and from their own parents as do all children. We don't have authoritative "cookbooks" to tell us the one true way to teach our children how to be responsible, cut their meat, use the toilet, be compassionate, master fractions, drive sanely, and choose the "right" kind of friends. We must allow our adult children to guide their families on the course they have chosen, using their own compass. Perhaps we did things differently, but they are not compelled by love or familial reverence to repeat exactly our parenting pattern.

"My parents raised three daughters and to hear them tell it, we were all very well behaved. When my son arrived, they were thrilled. We drove the eight hundred miles several times a year for visits. I guess it was like culture shock for them to see their grandson so mobile, noisy, and inquisitive. Behaviors that I thought were normal worried them. I felt that they were disapproving or critical. It was very hard for all of us. Our visits were not comfortable; they were nerveracking. As the kids got older and more civilized, it got easier, but those early years were really hard."

— Kathy, age 49

Although fundamental family values do not change, the institution of family is not static. In order to be healthy, it must grow and adapt. The environment and culture in which our children raise their children differ from our own. Some of those changes are a natural evolution.

Our family circle may have already changed with the addition of a daughter or son-in-law. These new family members bring with them a heritage and tradition that will blend with our own within this new family unit. This is the time to become better acquainted with our "grand-in-laws." They are part of the extended family that we will share with this grandchild. Each of us is entitled to develop a relationship with our grandchild that is uniquely ours. But a respectful appreciation of the perspective that each of us brings to our blended family line will provide a harmonious world for our new grandchild.

TIP: When the desire for control asserts itself, repeat before a mirror, "They are all grown up! I've been promoted! I am a grand parent!"

"We had a big extended family, all in the same city. Nana was the boss. Everyone loved her and respected her, and her word was the law in the family. I don't remember anyone resenting her, so she must not have meddled. She was more like a peacemaker who told others when to quit their foolishness and how to get along with one another. Everyone looked up to her. She had a great deal of power, but I only remember her using it for the good of the family."

— Joe, age 55

As important as the grandparenting relationship has been in the past, it is crucial in contemporary family life. Changes in the fundamental structure and function of our families occurred over the course of the last generation that require a greater degree of involvement from extended family members in our children's lives. Today's children face challenges that will make their childhood experiences entirely different from those of the generation before them. The American family is reconfiguring itself. The cost of being middle class has skyrocketed, and in many instances families can survive only through two incomes. Full-time careers for many women have become not only an economic but a psychological necessity. Women do not want to confront an empty nest and an empty briefcase at the same time.

TIP: Pick up the phone and brag together with your grand-in-laws over the wonderful grandchild you share.

In the face of flux, the modern family rushes to cover all the bases. Our grandchildren will spend more of their time in structured activities during their day than any previous generation. They go to school, then to day care or structured lessons, play in sports leagues, belong to the Scouts, and hold jobs. They have very little free time to play Kick the Can with the neighborhood pack, climb a tree, or count lightning bugs at night. They are growing up in pinstriped suits and backpacks.

The odds are extremely high that our grandchildren will confront a shortage of time with parents who are both working to maintain the family income. Many children come home to empty houses. There's a fifty–fifty chance that their parents will separate or divorce. Schools, regardless of location, may not be able to maintain a peaceful environment. Too many will experience violence on their streets.

TIP: Ozzie and Harriet were a figment of our collective wishful thinking. We need a new vision of family dynamics that allows everyone to play with the cards they are dealt.

TIP: Get to know the caregivers in your grandchild's life. Drop by the day care center or offer to volunteer in a grand's school, club, or team activities.

Childhood in our contemporary society is a time of stress and worry. And for some children, childhood has all but disappeared. The reality that will not change significantly is that most parents will work outside the home. Other people will play an increasingly significant role in raising our grandchildren or they will have to raise themselves. Grandparenting offers children a powerful relationship in a noncompetitive, accepting atmosphere that will allow them to savor some of the most important aspects of childhood.

We come to our grandchild with all the bonds of blood and heritage and all the freedom of time and maturity. And we can have such fun together.

"I remember Pop used to take out his false teeth. He would hold them in his hand so his thumb and forefinger made a face around the teeth. He would draw a couple of eyes in pen on his forefinger and then his teeth would 'talk' to us. We thought it was hilarious. We'd beg him to make his teeth 'talk' when we came to visit. He never seemed embarrassed by it. I was surprised when my father told me that Pop never wanted anyone to know he had false teeth."

— Kate, age 32


Excerpted from The Magic of Grandparenting by Charmaine L. Ciardi, Cathy Nikkel Orme, Carolyn Quatrano. Copyright © 1995 Charmaine L. Ciardi, Cathy Nikkei Orme, and Carolyn Quatrano. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
1. Once Upon a Time: Discovering the Magic in a Grandparenting Relationship,
2. Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Grandparenting Offers a Brand-New Adventure,
3. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Reflecting the Best in Our Grandchildren,
4. Geppetto Loved His Boy: Helping Grandchildren Feel Secure,
5. Wicked Stepmothers, Ogres, and Crones: Finding the Best Role in a Changing Family,
6. God Bless You, Tiny Tim: Grandparenting for Special Needs,
7. Electric Granny Stays Plugged In: Grandparenting over Long Distances,
8. Wise Owl's Foresight Was in Demand: Putting Grandparenting Experience to Work,
9. A Very Merry Unbirthday: Celebrating Occasions Great and Small,
10. Happily Ever After: Carrying Our Heritage into the Future,

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