Grandparent’s Day is a chance for children and the community to thank grandparents for their love and support. In 2023, Queenslanders will celebrate Grandparent’s Day on Sunday 29 October.
Grandparent’s Day recognises the significant contribution that grandparents make to their families and communities. The day is celebrated annually in Queensland on the last Sunday in October.
We asked Brian Andrew a local Brisbane author, speaker, storyteller, and grandparent to share what he has learned about raising kids in celebration of Grandparent’s Day.
Grandparents are important to children
“Children are like tiny flowers and need to be nourished like plants in a garden,” said educator Friedrich Frobel when he launched ‘Kindergartens’ (children’s gardens) in Germany in 1840.
As parents, our job is to plant our ‘tiny flowers’ in high quality soil, ensuring they get adequate sunshine and a steady flow of clean water, so they become emotionally robust teenagers and adults.
I’m thinking of soil as love, sunshine as laughter and water as the wisdom our children require to negotiate the journey of life.
At the top of our ‘job description’ as parents is the provision of the ‘high-quality soil’ of love. They won’t grow well without it.
Kids spell love as ‘TIME’
Kids spell love as being there for them – always. Kids spell love as time – unhurried time when we are paying attention with our eyes, ears, hands and hearts.
One of the best parenting choices I made was to lie on the bed before lights out with my kids and read them stories. And even more importantly, lying there after lights out telling them my stories and listening to theirs.
Recent research concludes the best single predictor of a child’s emotional health and happiness is what researchers call a strong ‘intergenerational self’ which means they have a sense of belonging, a sense of where they fit in the world. And this they learn through the telling of stories.
Grandparents know the best memories are shared experiences
When I reminisce on my childhood, it’s quickly evident that my best memories aren’t about stuff, they’re about shared experiences with mum and dad and my 3 brothers. When my 3 kids reminisce about their childhood their most vivid memories are not about stuff, but about shared experiences as a family, such as mealtimes, play times, birthdays and especially holidays.
The ‘high quality soil’ of unconditional love provides our children with the best possible chance of a healthy life.
The sunshine of laughter and fun is essential to create a healthy growing environment. Studies show kids laugh 300 to 400 times a day and adults laugh 12 to 17 times a day. What happened?
The most influential teacher in human history said if we want a high quality life we need a childlike attitude or we won’t get it. And laughter and fun rate near the top for kids.
One time my mum was staying with us and after a few days she remarked, “There’s not enough laughter in your home!” Thanks, mum. But a quick analysis proved her right. We found the season of our late 20’s and early 30’s was the most stressful season of our life, and yet perhaps the most important for the formation of our children.
Laughter is the best medicine
‘Laughter really is the best and cheapest medicine around’. Laughter for kids comes in part from us entering their world, from playing in their world – both outside our home and on a small screen. From having a cat or a dog. From watching funny television or movies…from allowing them to laugh at our inability to dance or negotiate basic technology.
Without sunshine tiny plants don’t stand a chance. And so with fun and laughter for our children.
One of the primary features of our parenting job description is to train our kids. It’s providing ‘clean water wisdom’ that is caught more than taught.
The best definition of wisdom I ever heard was ‘applied knowledge’. It’s not enough to tell our children about life or direct them to sources of information on a small screen.
Being a role model this Grandparent’s Day
More than anything, it’s transformation by imitation. Regardless of what we say, our children will copy our behaviour. Could it be our child is having a tantrum because we have them? Could it be that our child is resentful, because we don’t forgive those who hurt us?
On the other hand maybe our child is willing to share because they see us share. Maybe they speak kindly to others because they hear us do the same. Maybe they’re grateful because we are.
Mum and Dad were always there for us when I grew up. Laughter was frequently heard in our home. And we learned wisdom by example and by the positive and painful consequences of our choices.
As best as I’m aware our kids would describe the home of their upbringing much the same.
Nurturing our children with the soil of love, the sunshine of laughter and clean water wisdom gives them a great start to life.
‘We don’t raise the children of our fantasy; we raise children who end up quite a bit like us!’
Now that’s something to laugh about!
About the author
Brian Andrew. Brisbane local, speaker, bestselling author, storyteller and columnist. His best seller ‘I Grow in Grandad’s Garden’ is based on his own life and garden in his home in Yeronga. His second book ‘The Adventures of A B C & D is a collection of short stories of his happy childhood. Visit his website to be inspired www.livehappytogether.com.au
Did you know that 26.6% of Grandparents reported providing regular care to grandchildren or other children under the age of 12, ranging from 1 to 168 hours per week? Thank you Grandparents for your amazing contribution to supporting Brisbane families!
Fun activities for Grandparent’s Day
Looking for fun things to do with your your Grandparent in celebration of Grandparent’s Day. Here’s our pick:
- Try this Talking Families activity together
- Head along to a Grandparent’s Playgroup
- If your Grandparent lives far away mail-a-hug
Find out more about Grandparent’s Day by heading to the Queensland Government website. You’ll also find a number of resources including editable e-cards to acknowledge the special Grandparent in your life.
This article was published in Issue 3 of our print magazine, April/May 2014.