By Muneezah Jawad
Grandparents are the epitome of love. If there was someone on this planet who came close to caring for my children as much as I did, it would be my parents. There are obvious reasons why maintaining this relationship is important. We all need to know our roots so we are confident of who we are in the world today. Knowing where you came from means you will know where you are going. That’s important because the world today is not easy. We need as many allies as we can get to help us raise our children according to our values and customs.
Grandparents are the second set of hands you can place your children in safely. If your children are blessed enough to have them in their lives then you need to seize the opportunity and make sure that near or far your kids glean the benefits of their infinite wisdom and affection.
Language and religion
There are many ways to grow and strengthen the bond if grandparents live nearby or with you. I’ve often heard complaints that kids don’t speak their mother tongue. Well Nana can teach his grandchildren to speak, read and even write it. Some of the funniest and most endearing moments I have seen is my father trying to understand my niece’s very strong British accent and her rolling her mouth trying to form sounds that just don’t come out right. It’s amusing but it is valuable education and we must not allow our children to lose their heritage.
It’s also becoming an increasing concern that kids are not receiving enough religious education. Your children can practice their Quran lessons with them, learn Duas, Surah’s, Seerah and pray with them as well.
Our elders are a well of religious knowledge. They make religious occasions such as Ramadan and Eid extra special. Our daily lives are more enriched because they help us instill those small little Sunnahs that they know, into our daily routines.
Several skills are slowly being lost as generations move on. Grandma can teach the kids how to knit that perfect scarf. If grandpa is a whiz a chess, hours of fun can be had. Watching the little seed they planted together sprout in to a tomato builds a sense of achievement. It encourages bonding and is educational. It also keeps grandpa active, physically and mentally as the elderly often find themselves with a ton of spare time and no way to pass it. It also makes them feel useful and prevents depressions as often they can feel frustrated as age takes away many of their former abilities. My grandmother, brother and I spent hours playing card games and she would sew clothes for my Barbies.
If they are not well, then the best gift you can give your child is the gift of nurturing. What better way for them to earn sawab then to help their grandparents. Simple things like getting them water and running small errands means the world to ailing grandparents. This teaches them that we must learn to care for, respect and help the elderly and not let them become lonely.
Advances in technology such as viber, skype, FaceTime etc. enable us to be in touch with family on a daily basis if they live far away. You should set up a time when the child and grandparent each spend time online with each other doing much of the same things as above and sharing their daily lives. If they aren’t tech savvy, encourage letter writing and phone calls. Call on all special occasions, have the kids make handmade cards, pictures or crafts and send those. These things are more precious to grandparents than store bought things. The grandparent can be your child’s newest and best pen pal. You must also make it a priority to try to visit as often as is possible within your own constraints.
Share your loss
I lost my mother a few years ago. My elder children had the pleasure of knowing her and remember her but my little one who was only two at the time has almost forgotten her. It’s important to keep their memory alive. Talk about them frequently. Discuss their likes and dislikes; show them pictures, especially if it’s with the grandkids.
Maybe your daughter has inherited her grandmother’s curly locks? Maybe your son has a fascination about planes like his Nana? Pass down that secret recipe for that very special Haleem only your mom could make. Share the little quirks they had, my mom loved to collect table cloths and comforters, it was a family joke. All these things connect the generations in the family and paint a memorable picture.
Don’t hide your tears from your kids. If you miss your parents and become mournful don’t hide it. Let your children know that someone very special and vital has left your life and that you cherished them. Of course don’t traumatize the kids but show them that you are human too and that family and heritage is of utmost value.
In these times, where technology is able to keep us more in touch with each other, I find that people are actually moving apart. The relationship between grandparent and grandchild has stood the test of time. It’s unconditional and selfless love. We must make the effort to make sure our children reap the benefits as ultimately they have the most to gain. Whether it’s your parents or your in laws, regardless of how your own relationship is with them, the winner will always be your child and the prize will always be love.
About the author:
Muneezah Jawad is the Social Media Manager at MuslimMoms.ca
Let us know how you make sure your kids stay close to their grandparents. Share your thoughts and ideas.